“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:
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:
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(Image by Everett Collection via Shutterstock)