2015 Will be the Year of Native Ads

Native advertising is going to be the real deal in 2015 and Buzzfeed has larger reach among Millennials than Fox, MTV, CNN, or any of the networks. Thus Buzzfeed is selling native advertising hard.

What does this mean for agencies and brands? It means they will have to make a bigger commitment to producing native ads than they already have. But first they will have to decide what, for them, constitutes native advertising for their particular brands. Research firms are only beginning to study and define this new phenomenon, which for some doubters is just the old-time “advertorial” in a digital wrapper.

But we don’t think so. A couple of things in the digital environment are very different from print and TV, the traditional environments in which advertorials were used. First, a large percentage of traffic no longer comes from search, but rather from social. That means it comes as a recommendation, often from a friend. Second, nearly 50% of content, especially video, is consumed on mobile, and that will continue to grow.

So right now native can be defined in several different ways. Market research firm Mintel defines native ads as paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed, and estimated that spending would rise more than sevenfold between 2013 and 2018. By this definition, a native ad would be video for a video site and text for a print site.

However, that’s not necessarily what draws attention or drives engagement. Accordingly, EMarkerter uses a broader definition, saying “perceptions about what constitutes native advertising are as varied as the ads themselves and the places where they
appear. There’s still disagreement over basic terminology such as ‘native advertising,’ ‘sponsored content’ and  ‘branded content.’ Some make distinctions among those terms, while others use them interchangeably.”

We think native ads are content that flows from the actual content of a site, and it can be in whatever format delivers the highest impact. We define it the way Buzzfeed does, as advertising that appears in feeds.Lately, we’re seeing excellent response from inArticle video ads placed in standard IAB units on text sites. Because of the way we serve these ads, they drive higher engagement and startling CTRs.