Research company Altimeter have had a go at defining native advertising, and although a little clunky (too much lingo!), it does make sense to me. Here’s how they put it in their report:
With so much discussion centered around native advertising, we felt it critical to define the term, assess the nascent landscape, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of this new-ish form of advertising. That is what we have done in research published today.
Based on over two dozen interviews with publishers, social networks, brands, agencies, vendors and industry experts, Altimeter Group has arrived at the following definition of native advertising:
“Native advertising is a form of converged media that combines paid and owned media into a form of commercial messaging that is fully integrated into, and often unique to, a specific delivery platform.”
In other words, we believe native advertising lives at the intersection of paid and owned media, and is therefore a form of converged media. ‘Owned’ media is content that the brand or advertiser controls. Paid media is advertising: space or time that entails a media buy.
Does native advertising overlap with established forms of sponsored/branded/custom content? Advertorial? Indeed it does. Often differentiation can entail splitting hairs. Yet the evolution of so many unique platforms and technologies has made forms of advertising truly “native.” A sponsored tweet can be native only to Twitter, for example, just as a promoted Facebook post is native only to that one channel.
The company also put together a table showing the pros of native advertising for different stakeholders, which sums things up quite nicely.
At Respond we like to spend time building things rather than defining them. Frankly, we don’t really care what you call it. All the matters is that problems are solved and objectives are met.
The problems with digital advertising right now include banner blindness, falling CPMs, growth in ad blocker software (closely related to growth in hugely annoying interruptive ad formats), low engagement rates/brand recall/purchase intent.
Clearly the objectives for publishers are to increase revenue, to provide a compelling user experience that leads to repeat visits and high dwell time, and to delight advertisers with great results leading to more budget and great renewals. It’s a virtuous circle. Or at least it could be, if the best principles of native advertising are employed.
And that’s how we build Respond – to provide ads that people pay attention to because they are placed where people look on the page and are designed to fit in with the design of the site. Ads that respect their environment and place a value on the publisher’s brand and the visitor’s attention. Ads that command a premium because they work.