There has been a lot of talk this year that native advertising is going to “save online publishing.” But, while many advertisers and publishers have expressed their excitement about native advertising and its potential to replace increasingly useless banner ads, native advertising is still fraught with challenges that must be overcome. Before we get too excited or worked up over this new ad format, let’s take a look at the three biggest challenges that face the native ad industry.
Native advertisements are unique to the site on which they’re found, making them nearly impossible to standardize. What’s more is that buying and selling native ads becomes a challenge because there it’s often unclear what you’re actually getting for your dollar. Until there is a standardized analytics metric along with a standardized method for buying and selling, native ads will fail to reach their true potential.
Online advertisements are measured on a “cost per” basis, but when it comes to native advertising, these types of traditional metrics may not be the best solution for measuring native ads. According to some online advertising experts, native ad page view metrics may be surprisingly low, but they often are much more successful than a handful of banner or display ads on the same page. The reason being is that native ads engage readers and encourage them to interact with the content, which offers brands an opportunity to connect with consumers in ways that banner ads cannot. Thus, despite their relatively low number of traditional impressions, native ads are a much more valuable and engaging ad experience. With this being the case, advertisers and publishers need to find a metric that works for measuring the success of native ads and iron out an agreeable way to buy and sell them.
Transparency has always been massively important to advertisers, be it online or off, and native advertising is no different. But, because native ads can easily be disguised as just another piece of content, it’s important that advertisers and publishers strive to be transparent in their efforts. Online marketing is all about establishing relationships, being trustworthy, offering something of value, and transparency plays a huge role in all of those things. Content creators need to share things that are engaging and useful, but also need to divulge whether or not they’re explicitly ad focused. Being honest and up front about native advertising is the best way to help it grow into a viable and successful advertising platform.
There’s no doubt that native advertising is starting to take off, and that soon it will be one of the most popular and effective forms of online advertising around. However, in order for it to become the successful marketing tool that we all hope it will be, it must first iron out these three main challenges and establish best practices and standards. In short, if native advertising is to be widely accepted across all realms of the digital marketing industry, it must be more predictable, more measurable, and prove that it’s worth every penny of an advertiser’s spend.
Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.