In the face of consistent opposition, it’s usually time to consider a new tactic. At least, that is what many marketers are choosing to do in the midst of the ad-blocking saga, by adopting a new digital strategy designed to reduce disruption: native advertising.
Hailed as tonic that will heal the rift caused by intrusive ads, this subtler communications method has a lot of potential. Yet after the backlash against interruptive formats like banner ads and interstitials, marketers are nervous. Embracing a new form of advertising technology is risky, especially without prior assurance of success. So how can native prove its value?
Incentivising native adoption
Earlier this year, Forbes moved to address this consideration in the same way it dealt with initial jitters about display ads 14 years ago — a money-back guarantee. The deal promises that marketers who spend $250,000 on a mixture of native (Forbes’ BrandVoice) and display ads for a period of 60 days, will receive a full refund if there is no resulting uplift in purchases, brand recall, awareness or favourability. Furthermore, marketers can also select an adtech provider of their choice to measure campaign performance and determine if campaigns are worth their fee.
But while Forbes’ approach provides a robust safety net, it doesn’t quantify the benefit of native ads. With such vague assurances marketers would be forgiven for questioning exactly what return they can expect for their investment.
A compelling body of evidence
There is, however, strong evidence of the effects native ads can generate — if you know where to look. For example, research conducted by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP), has shown that native formats are not just equal to standard ads; they can outperform them. The findings revealed that 60% of consumers found native ads to be more informative and interesting than standard display formats, and crucially, a third of consumers were more likely to trust them.
Native ads also outshone traditional ads when it came to conversions, driving 31% more clicks and widening the purchase funnel by 29%. But the most important factor in their success was quality — the best responses were fuelled by tailored, original content that blended seamlessly with its environment and provided real value. Proof that it can be worth investing in the long game with contextually appropriate ads, rather than going for fast impact with overly disruptive communications.
And so it looks like native ads need no guarantees to ensure success: they just need to obey the core principles of good advertising. Flexible, appropriate and transparent messaging will always be more impactful than generic and irritating ads. And when campaigns take this strategic consultation to heart, the results can be greater conversions, happier consumers, and less resistance. Whether marketers decide that native ads have real value or not, their example is one the rest of industry should be following to overcome opposition and win back audiences.