State of play of native advertising in 2016

To fight against adblocking, native advertisements are popular. Objective of native advertising: allow advertisers to sponsor content, while allowing the advertiser to collaborate in its development. A study, conducted jointly by the INMA (International News Media Association) and the NAI (Native Advertising Institute) has just been published: it deciphers the trends, the good practices, presents certain campaigns and allows to know the opinion of the media and advertisers on the effectiveness of native advertising.

100 years of history

INMA and NAI point out that native advertising is not a new phenomenon. It’s even a century-old practice: in 1915, Cadillac sponsored an article in the Saturday Evening Post, without the word Cadillac being included in the article. Only a skin, similar to the backgrounds that still abound on the web, allowed to know that Cadillac had a relationship with the content.

The importance of transparency

Fortunately, most media consider transparency towards its audience to be an important element. But others have obviously still not understood: 7% of respondents prefer not to indicate that content is produced in partnership with an advertiser. It’s worse in the magazine industry, where 11% of respondents say they don’t list any mentions. The study focuses on English-language media, which mainly use 4 formulations to indicate that content is sponsored by an advertiser: featured content, sponsored content, suggested post Where promoted content (all grouped under the “Sponsored content” label in this graphic).

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The media opinion

When it comes to native advertising, journalists are often reserved. They are often afraid for their credibility, afraid that readers will not make the difference between sponsored content and that produced “freely”. They are undoubtedly more fearful than their audience: according to a study by De Persgroep and the University of Antwerp, readers are much more open to native advertising than to other editorial formats such as infomercials. 86% of readers accept this format, provided that the transparency is effective. And obviously, their management also appreciates native advertising: 48% of publishers surveyed offer native advertising and 76% have a positive feeling about this format (negative: 4%). Nearly 9 media concerned out of 10 consider that native advertising is important or very important for their business. Native advertising is also preferred to programmatic advertising.

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Revenue generated by native advertising

In 2015, native advertising was estimated to account for 11% of media revenue. By 2018, the proportion will more than double to 25%. The magazine press is the first concerned, since it is estimated that 33% of its income will be generated by native advertising in 2018 – against 19% in 2015. Native advertising tends to become widespread. In 2015, 30% of media did not market this type of format; they will only be 6% in 2018. If native advertising is so popular with the media, it is because this format is lucrative. 65% of media charge more customers who opt for native advertising, compared to display (16% charge less).

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Native ad design

INMA and NAI note that the native advertising market is becoming more structured. Currently, editorial teams participate in 42% of sponsored content. But many publishers now go through a dedicated studio or a dedicated in-house team. Agencies are also involved in the design of this content.

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On the marketing side, 46% of media sell native advertising as a distinct product, when 54% combine these formats with other solutions (display, etc.). 20% of media outlets surveyed have a sales team specifically dedicated to selling native ads.

The return on investment of native advertising

For brands, this is the most important: does native advertising work? To find out, advertisers mainly look at the repercussions in terms of traffic; but that’s not all, as shown in the graph below.

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The most effective formats

Regarding formats, written articles are widely acclaimed. They constitute an opportunity for 90% of the media and brands questioned. Far behind, we find video content (53%), multi-media storytelling (45%) and multi-platform storytelling (42%). Changes made to the layout of the sites (design, addition of content directly linked to the brand in the sidebar, etc.) come in second place (54%).

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The challenges of native advertising

Finally, INMA and NAI list the challenges to be met for native advertising to continue to be appreciated by all stakeholders, from advertisers to the media and their readers.

  • The media will have to succeed in explaining to advertisers the interest of such a format compared to traditional display (effectiveness, commitment, visibility, etc.).
  • They will also have to convince advertisers to help them create real content, so that it doesn’t look like infomercials.
  • Sales teams need to be better trained and will have to design mixed advertising packs (native ads coupled with other formats).
  • Brands will need to understand that readers prefer articles where brands are less present (more believable, entertaining and convincing).
  • For the media, the main danger of native ads is the advertisers’ lack of understanding (hence the need to educate brands).
  • 20% of the media say they have already received a complaint from a reader after the publication of an article of this type, hence the need for transparency on this subject.

Download the study on Native Advertising

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