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Marketing Soothsayers: It’s Time To Go ‘Native’ With Your Advertising
Recently, my company, The 614 Group, joined forces with content advertising leader OneSpot to conduct a study in which we surveyed almost 500 marketers during May and June about their native advertising intentions.
Unsurprisingly, we discovered they have a significant interest in the emerging native advertising format, with 67 percent calling it “interesting and valuable,” and 22 percent predicting that it is “where all online advertising is headed.” Only nine percent labeled it “a fad soon to be forgotten.” Powerful stuff.
Deeper into the findings that we unearthed, we found even more compelling digital gems – the kind that would convince any interactive industry stakeholder interested in driving results derived from the synchronicity between content and advertising to get off the fence and truly go “native”.
Are Publishers Offering What Marketers Want?
Despite our findings, many may claim that publishers are already well on their way to creating native engagements. To some extent, that’s true: an Online Publishers Association (OPA) study published almost one year ago, “Premium Content Brands Are Native Naturals,” (PDF) noted more than 93% of publishers already had a native offering.
However, despite those results, there seems to be an ongoing disconnect between what publishers are offering, and what marketers are asking for. They’re like cars passing each other on a native highway going in different directions.
Our survey brings that disconnect to light in revealing ways. Marketers opined about a broad range of core trends in the interactive marketplace. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Though we are still in the early days of paid content distribution, it’s clear that spending is set to increase. Content distribution will see the biggest increase in share of budget over the next 12 months. There are good reasons for that: more than two-thirds (69 percent) of marketers feel that native advertising is interesting and valuable, while 22 percent see it as the future of digital advertising.
- Content distribution is – expectedly, given the above data point — a high priority. Over half (52%) of marketers say obtaining the right level of scale is their top priority for native advertising and content marketing. This means the publishers who help them obtain it stand to reap enormous benefits.
Translation: There is gold in them darn hills — you just need to figure out how to grab it…
- Marketers need third-party distribution outlets. The majority of marketers (87%) use their own websites as a means to distribute content, while 80 percent are using social networks, and 76 percent are relying on organic search. In comparison, only 24 percent are using publisher native offerings, 18 percent are using content discovery/recommendation platforms, and a paltry 7 percent cite using in-feed native platforms.
Translation: Marketers want to extend content marketing efforts, but they lack the necessary outlets to do so. And it’s clear to us that even if publishers do have a native offering, they may not be representing it — or marketing it — properly.
- Content-discovery platforms show the most room for growth. With increased budgets and shortages of scale and distribution, marketers will soon look for vehicles to increase audience size. This represents a prime opportunity for publishers to grow their revenue streams by tapping into native advertising budgets.
Translation: Content marketing aggregators have a huge, not-to-be-missed opportunity too…
- Most marketers (56%) are targeting content placements based on demographics, firmographics (the B2B equivalent of demographics), and interests. Only 24% are using behavioral targeting, and a mere 22% are using third party data sources for content targeting. Additionally, more than 20% of marketers indicated they are not making use of any targeting approach, and that generating traffic and clicks was the main goal.
Translation: There is a great deal of room to leverage burgeoning, data-driven audience development tactics.
- Marketers are far from satisfied with their content marketing efforts. More than half (54%) of marketers aren’t satisfied with their current content-marketing efforts, and almost one-third (29%) feel most stymied by the challenge of driving business results.
Unanswered Tactical Questions For Publishers
Part of the disconnect may also be that even though publishers are “going native,” they still have unanswered tactical questions as they begin their plans to scale this offering, such as “What happens to my website’s users when embarking on a native strategy?” and, “How do I choose the right partner or technology vendor when trying to get ahead of this opportunity?”
We tried our best to answer these questions in our paper (registration required) and will be sharing additional insights in future columns. And, as native advertising evolves, it will become clearer that publishers, marketers and media buyers need to consider a variety of issues and address a myriad of elements before finding a winning formula.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.