U.S. publishers jumping on native advertising: study

July 22, 2013  |  Jeff Fraser  |  Comments

By the end of the year, native advertising adoption in the U.S. could expand to 90% of major publishers according to a survey of publishers such as Time Inc., WebMD and Future US. The study found almost three quarters of premium publishers already offer native advertising to brands, and another 17% are considering implementing it within the year.

To hone in on the facts behind the buzz, the Online Publishers Association asked its members to define “native advertising” as they implemented it. The majority said native advertising has to be integrated into the design of a publisher’s site, live on the publisher’s domain and run within the site’s editorial content stream. Around three quarters said they use new or existing publisher-created content to create native advertising, while 62% said they use content created by marketers and agencies.

When asked what marketers were looking for from native, respondents said brands want to increase consumer engagement and leverage the publisher’s editorial brand far more than they want to drive clickthroughs or sales. Publishers said marketers primarily use engagement, time-spent-on-content and traffic as campaign performance metrics, rather than cost-per-view or cost-per-click.

A little more than three quarters of publishers said that native content has to be clearly marked out as advertising, and most said it has to conform to readers’ expectations of editorial style and subject matter. Content that doesn’t fit with readers’ perception of the publisher’s brand may spark backlash, though none of the publishers surveyed said they had experienced above-average complaints from readers after running native content.

By the Numbers

How publishers define native advertising
• 93% – Ad content integrated into the design of the publisher’s site and living on same domain
• 86% – Content created by, with or for an advertiser that runs in the editorial stream
• 79% – Content that is clearly delineated and labeled as ad content
• 68% – Content that has editorial value to the reader and conforms to the reader’s expectations
• 61% – Content marketing such as sponsored sites, games, and infographics
• 54% – Highly automated ad content such as sponsored stories and publisher tweets

What publishers use to create native ads
• 76% – Newly created publisher content
• 71% – Re-packaged pre-existing publisher content
• 62% – Marketer/agency-generated content
• 38% – User-generated content

Publishers’ perceptions of what marketers are looking to achieve with native ads
• 81% – Increase consumer engagement with advertiser brand
• 81% – Leverage publisher brand equity to achieve brand lift
• 10% – Generate clickthroughs
•  5% – Generate sales

The study was conducted by the OPA and Radar Research through May and June, and included a quantitative survey of 29 member publishers and 12 qualitative interviews. The OPA is a non-profit trade group founded in 2001 to represent premium U.S. publishers, and its membership has a unique audience of 220 million.

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