The paid ad blockers are dropping from the list of top paid apps in the Apple app store, so the crisis is over for now. But if we are smart, it has taught us a lesson: we have to make advertising better.
We have to quit stalking customers, and start being more intelligent about how we use data. Customers have said over and over again that they don’t mind relevant ads. What they mean is an ad that will help them, not assault them. Data is good, if we use it to determine what customers want, rather than just try to make them want something we are selling.
We also have to treat customers like intelligent people and offer them creative that’s commensurate with their intelligence. In the industry, we know that the biggest metric for success is whether something is shared. As an industry, surely we can come up with shareable content.
This means gravitating more toward native. And native has several different meanings, depending on who is defining it. IAB has come up with six separate categories of what can be considered native:
1. In Feed Ad Units– As the name denotes, it is an ad unit that is located within the website’s normal content well. The content may have been written by or in partnership with the publisher’s team to match the surrounding stories. It is measured on brand metrics such as interaction and brand lift. Example: Buzzfeed’s sponsored articles. Or Digiday’s sponsored content.
2. Search Ads– are generally found above the organic search results. Search ads have been sold with a guaranteed placement on the search engine page, and they are measured on conversion metrics such as a purchase. They have the same appearance as the other results on the page with the exception of disclosure aspects. For example, Google uses the word “ad” in yellow next to the paid post as means of disclosure.
3. Recommendation Widgets– Although the ad is part of the content of the site, it does not look like the editorial content feed. It is delivered through a widget. It is generally recognizable by words like “You might also like” or “You might like”, “Elsewhere from around the web” or “From around the web”, “You may have missed”, or “Recommended for you.” These are the ads delivered by Taboola and Outbrain.
4. Promoted Listings– The websites that carry these ad units, are typically not content based, rather they are usually e-commerce sites. Promoted listings are presented to look identical to the products or services offered on a given site. Example: Amazon’s sponsored products.
5. In-Ad (IAB Standard)– An ad in a standard IAB container that is outside the feed. “It contains contextually relevant content within the ad, links to an offsite page, has been sold with a guaranteed placement, and is measured on brand metrics such as interaction and brand lift.”
6. Custom / Can’t be Contained– This category is left for ads that do not fit in with the other categories.
These definitions may or may not be helpful. What ‘s important is to recognize that all native advertising must be clearly marked as advertising, or we risk making consumers as angry at native as they are at display. We have a reprieve, but the case against advertising hasn’t been dismissed.