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Apple native banner brings ad options to News app

Weeks before the iPhone SE launch, developers got a preview of new format

It wasn’t mentioned once during Apple’s annual spring product launch event, but the introduction of a native banner format in Apple News might wind up being of far greater interest to advertisers and marketers than the iPhone SE.

Weeks before the company unveiled the latest additions to it smartphone and iPad Pro devices, Apple observers had taken notice of a specification document that the company had made available to iOS developers. “Ad Specifications for iAd” (PDF) offers details on large banners, interstitials and even double banners. It was a section called simply “Native Banner,” however, that drew coverage from Business Insider and many other sources.

“Native ads display directly in the content feeds, inline with News articles, and are intended to blend in with their surrounding,” the document says. “They will be set in the default font used in News.”

Apple’s move to embrace native advertising is hardly a surprise. Just a few weeks ago, Yahoo published research from its Gemini native platform that showed CPMs for third-party native apps ranged between US$3.50 and $4 in North America.

Vitaly Pecherskiy, co-founder and COO of Toronto-based native StackAdapt, said he would be very interested in bringing Apple News inventory into his firm’s native ad platform. The 2014 Marketing 30 Under 30 alumnus also said he felt marketers would likely feel the same.

“I think it would be welcomed by many Canadian advertisers. Many of them already buy native ads, so additional scale to reach a wider audience is always of interest to them,” he said. “In-feed advertising has grown to become synonymous with the distribution of branded content, so I can imagine high interest in having this content discovered in the rich experience that Apple News provides.”

The one challenge in all native advertising, of course, is ensuring that those looking at the content understand what it is and why they’re seeing it. That’s one of the reasons the IAB, at its 2016 Digital Summit in Johannesburg, launched a set of guidelines to assist marketers with being transparent.

The Apple developer document suggests the iPhone maker is taking matters into its own hands to some extent.

“The sponsored advertiser name is optional. [But] if an advertiser name is not provided, the reader will see ‘Sponsored’ in the banner,” the specifications read.

Apple said native ads can also link to an article in its Apple News app.

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