“Native advertising has emerged both as an exciting new way for digital marketers to engage with the consumer, and as a new source of advertising revenue for publishers. ‘What is native advertising?’ is a question that the industry has, almost frantically, been looking to answer since the term was first coined. While countless definitions have been proposed by nearly every industry insider, company, and journalist, no universally agreed-upon one has surfaced. This is because, to a large extent, native is in the eye of the beholder, depending on where one sits in the ecosystem and the strategic and media objectives of the marketer.”
The preceding excerpt is from the IAB Native Advertising Playbook. The IAB gathered a consortium of industry professionals to establish clarity and standardization around native advertising. It’s been a hot topic in the advertising industry and John Oliver recently took it mainstream with a semi-rant during his show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Take a look:
In spite of all the discussion around native advertising, it really boils down to this:
Publishers create content. People consume content. In most cases, people do not pay for content. Publishers need to make money. They must pay writers, host websites, print magazines, etc. Advertisers need to reach consumers. Advertisers pay publishers to reach consumers. Advertisers and publishers have been doing this dance with traditional display advertising for decades.
Introducing a Problem:
People are no longer paying attention to these traditional ad units. (Some may question if they ever were.) Advertisers are displeased because they are spending money but are not connecting with engaged consumers in return.
Introducing a Solution:
Native advertising. Create ads that blend with the content in both look and subject matter. People click on the native ads and advertisers are happy.
Introducing Another Problem:
Many people do not recognize the difference between the publisher’s content and the native ad. According to a study by Professor David Franklyn at University of San Francisco School of Law, 50% of people viewing a native ad have no idea what the “sponsored” indicator means next to the ad. This is largely John Oliver’s concern. Does it impact publisher integrity to present advertisements in the same manner as they present actual content? It’s a slippery slope and will be an ongoing topic of debate.
Introducing Another Solution:
Publishers needing to make money is a constant. Advertisers needing to connect with engaged consumers is another. But what doesn’t have to be a constant is how they do so. Audio advertising is naturally native. The IAB Playbook outlines several questions to assess native and here’s how audio stacks up:
- Form: Audio ads fit with the design and flow of the content and the audio is “in stream.”
- Function: Audio ads function exactly like the content the listener is consuming. When working with a savvy audio agency, advertisers can even go so far as to match the subject matter of the audio ad to the audio content.
- Integration: The behaviors of an audio ad match the audio content around it. Users listen to the content in the same manner they listen to the ad and once the ad is complete, they are reintroduced to the content.
- Buying & Targeting: Audio ads can be targeted to a specific type of content, a specific user and can be purchased on a guaranteed basis like traditional direct sold advertising.
- Measurement & Disclosure: The great thing about audio is that it can be measured in a number of ways – from the basics of whether the ad played, to specific calls to action. Disclosure is a non-factor because audio ads sound and are presented like advertisements.
While we continue to define native advertising, we should consider forms of advertising that lend themselves to a naturally native experience and are proven to drive consumer engagement – like audio.