Ad-blocking has been the Internet consumer’s preferred solution to traditional display ads, pop-ups, and slowed site experiences. Will the the rise of native advertising be the answer to stopping the apocalyptic prophecies of the media industry?
There are a few reasons to believe that native ads will at least play a role in bridging the gap between the current revenue streams and those we might see in the future.
Randall Rothenberg at Ad Age broke down the four areas that the publishing industry needs to address if ad blocking will be “overcome,” in his piece “Ad Blocking: The Unnecessary Internet Apocalypse.” Below is a list of ways that native advertising already fixes these issues.
1. The rapid race for consumer data must stop slowing the internet down. Everyone wants to own "insights" about the user, the ad and the site. But each digital ad is lugging around so many companies' requests for data that the ads are physically, literally impeding the delivery of content. Data calls must be limited, ideally through a consensus-based standard-setting process or best practices. The industry needs to become better at using data -- and at using less of it.
Native advertising, at least the kind that truly lives natively on sites, only carries the code that the publisher provides – which can be limited to first-party only. First-party data is incredibly important for the publisher to provide a good experience to the user, something that both parties can agree to when they use the site or app.
Talking Points Memo now has a whole department to create native ads that highlight the storytelling skills of its team and encourage brands to employ them to create custom ads specifically tailored for the readership they already know so well.
2. Ads should only load when they're about to be viewable, not before. Pre-loading ads not in view slows sites down, prioritizing advertising over people's desire to get to the content quickly.
Again, the issue disappears with native ads. As Mathew Ingram outlined in his “Barbell Effect,” there are two ends of the media spectrum poised for some degree of success in the years ahead -- a low-touch, programmatic end and a high-touch, custom content end. Here the low-touch end also shows how the content affect site experience, not just the content itself.
3. Advertisers and their agencies should voluntarily abandon the most upsetting forms of digital disruption. While auto-play video ads may work in some mobile in-stream environments where a consumer can swipe them off the screen quickly, it may be time to retire auto-play in other contexts. Flashing, blinking intrusive ads also should be considered grade-school creativity, not worthy of a profession that aspires to cultural significance -- and profits from making clients' brands admired and liked.
Native ads exist specifically to combat this issue and to present content in a seamless and integrated way for the user.
4. Finally, publishers must take control of their site experiences, and turn down advertising that doesn't meet their standards for user engagement. That might sound controversial, but it's not. TV networks, newspapers and magazines have had advertising acceptability departments for decades. And if we've learned anything from the rise of native advertising, it's that the "Vogue effect" -- in which great advertising enhances the value of the publisher's offering -- is applicable in digital media, too.
Rothenberg makes the point here for me. Ironically, the storytelling component of ads on digital publishers have been the least compelling of any medium.
In general, native ads are already playing visible role in bridging the gap between the current revenue streams and those we might see in the future. As an additional revenue channel, native advertising will continue to prove itself as a superior option for many, and a useful supplement for most. But whatever your revenue mashup looks like, one thing is true: the days of traditional advertising paying for media are over.
Presentation: Parse.ly partners with digital publishers to provide clear audience insights through an intuitive analytics platform. Thousands of writers, editors, site managers, and technologists already use Parse.ly to understand what content draws in website visitors, and why.
Clare Carr is the Director of Marketing at Parse.ly.