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In the mobile advertising space, things are changing and evolving at breakneck speeds.
The last two years have seen significant strides in mobile ad tech, but what we’re witnessing now is the coming together of three particular areas to produce a powerful combination; native ads, programmatic buying and enhanced targeting.
This fusion is essential to ensure a future in mobile advertising which provides users with a relevant and valuable experience, and advertisers with high-quality users.
Native ads must be unobtrusive, scalable and relevant
Ads are typically described as native when they blend into their environment and appear to the user as being part of the app’s content. However, it’s not just the ad’s format which is important, it’s also about how and when it is presented to the user.
Native ads have been increasingly taking over the screens of mobile users
Native ads, for example, have been increasingly taking over the screens of mobile users, due in part to click-through-rates almost five times higher than traditional display ads. However, these ads are also successful because smart app design means that they are shown to users at times which do not obstruct their flow within the app.
As users feel that the ads they are shown are not only unobtrusive (in terms of design and timing) but also relevant to them (through advanced targeting), they click on them more often. This results in better click through rates (CTRs), fuelling demand from advertisers for the format, which raises the question of scale.
Programmatic enables scale
One way to deal with growing demand for native formats is through automation. We’ve already seen this happen on banner ads, video, and many more. Now native is making its programmatic debut, too.
Programmatic, as a way to automate the buying and selling of ad space, is consistently improving
Programmatic, as a way to automate the buying and selling of ad space, is consistently improving as challenges of transparency and control are addressed. Advertisers have greater insights into how and where they are buying ad slots by getting access to direct inventory.
This offers a unique measure of brand safety by letting them select which apps their ad is shown in, guaranteeing them the right audience. On top of this, direct insights into which apps have available inventory gives them the ability to either optimise automatically based on preset KPIs or to manually set which traffic sources they consider best.
Targeting achieves relevance
Targeting possibilities are also becoming more sophisticated, paving the way for higher-quality users to be reached with targeted ads. This can be seen particularly on mobile as marketers harness the power of data management platforms (DMPs), which store vast amounts of anonymised mobile data, to find the users they want.
As many as 75% of programmatic display ads will be sold on mobile
This audience-centric approach, which targets campaigns towards specific audience groups, represents a pivotal shift in the way advertisers seek the right users for their apps. Advertisers want to know that their football app is being shown to a male audience in countries where soccer is played as a national sport, for example.
Programmatic buying helps them get their ad in front of the right person, and it’s clearly working for mobile: next year, according to eMarketer, as many as 75% of programmatic display ads will be sold on mobile, rather than desktop platforms.
A journey without its hiccups
The journey to native programmatic has not been without its hiccups. Up to now, the primary concern when it came to selling native ads programmatically was that their varied formats made standardisation difficult, but the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) OpenRTB 2.3 standard made it a priority to establish standards which are now relatively well-adopted within the industry.
More than $10bn is expected to be bought and sold using the OpenRTB protocol in 2017, and with more and more publishers signing up to display native ads which adhere to these standards in their apps, it’s never been easier for advertisers to place native ads at scale.
The standardisation of native ad formats has made them much easier to create
The standardisation of native ad formats has made them much easier to create than most think; in order to fit into the IAB’s OpenRTB 2.5 format, native ads simply need to incorporate elements of traditional, already created banner ads, which are then modularly added to the native format which the publisher app uses. The process can be completed within a matter of minutes.
This ease of use also means that we’ve seen significant increases in native programmatic adoption ourselves, with our native programmatic exchange Avocarrot growing the number of native ads it delivered programmatically from 1 billion in 2015 to 8 billion last year.
If you're not familiar with how a Banner Ad can be turned into a superior Native Ad unit take a look at this video:
Moving forward, we expect that advertisers who were once wary of the format due to uncertainties such as scale and design requirements will become increasingly comfortable with using native ads, and we as marketers will be seeing the emergence of programmatic native as the only scalable way in which to convert, engage and retain high-quality users across the mobile spectrum.
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