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Summary:

Native advertising — like a brand’s Tumblr blog or a sponsored tweet — is generating a lot of hype. A new survey says ad people are ready to take it on en masse, but some wonder if it can scale or if it’s just a buzzword.

“Native advertising” is being hailed as the ad format of the future by everyone from venture capitalist Fred Wilson to BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti. Now, a survey suggests brands are ready to put down serious money to try it out. This could be good news for web publishers — as soon as people can agree on what the heck native advertising is.

The survey of 800 advertising insiders by Solve Media (full survey below) found that 49 percent of media buyers would buy native advertising and that 14 percent of publishers planned to add a native ad option next year. The survey also found high support for the format among creative agencies and private investors.

Well, great, but what does this actually mean? To its credit, the survey cites skeptics who suggest “native advertising” is just a new name for an old practice:

Screen Shot 2012-12-12 at 11.32.49 AM

But Solve Media also makes a strong case that there is something new about native advertising — namely, ad makers are responding to new types of web publishing by designing ads that fit naturally into the look and context of a company’s design: promoted tweets on Twitter, sponsored stories on Facebook, paid discovery on StumbleUpon, and so on. The study also makes a distinction between brand as publishers (i.e., a brand making a Tumblr page) and brands as intermediaries (i.e., a brand buys a Google Adword). You can see the full taxonomy, including pictures, in the study below.

“It’s not a trend, it’s a reality,” said Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby, who believes native advertisers will eventually overcome detractors who claim the format is too time-consuming and expensive.

While the question of scale is an issue, my own hunch is that native advertising will grow as brands evaluate the relative ROI of expensive TV ads versus newer platforms. These platforms are also a good way for brands (if they’re quick) to ride internet memes like PBS did during the Big Bird controversy.

Solve Media sells sponsored CAPTCHAS, so it obviously had a dog in this fight when it commissioned the study. But the survey, especially the graphics, are worth a look:

Solve Media_Native Ad Whitepaper_FINAL

(Image by Everett Collection via Shutterstock)

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  1. Reblogged this on BrownGoods and commented:
    NO BIG surprise here. Get on board folks!!

  2. Tamar Blumenthal Thursday, December 13, 2012

    Very good infographic from the same folks on native advertising that covers publishers and investors: http://news.solvemedia.com/post/37787487410/native-advertising-in-context-infographic

  3. There is a whole LinkedIn group that discusses Native Online Advertising.
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Native-Online-Advertising-4735471?gid=4735471&trk=hb_side_g

  4. You call the ads EXPENSIVE TV Ads, when we are finding that Local Broadcast is more efficient than Internet with a 1:10 return…how can these ads be expensive when the ROI is better than internet?

  5. Scott MacDonell Friday, December 14, 2012

    It makes sense to go native, especially in the new paradigm of 1 on 1 marketing, engagement, and “conversation”. But I agree that “native” is nothing new. Look at endorsement radio. Live endorsement reads from djs or sports/newstalk talents have given advertisers the opportunity to go native since media began: http://www.endorsementradio.com/blog/2010/06/inc-magazine-article-on-endorsement-radio/

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