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Native Advertising on Mobile - Advertising’s Messiah?

Nov 19, 2014 / by Vitaly Pecherskiy

In a Pulse post originally published on Linkedin, our COO Vitaly Pecherskiy offers his insight on the future of Native Advertising on mobile, and if it is it 'all that' it is hyped up to be? Original post here


I think too many people claim that Native Advertising is what's going to save advertising on mobile. Just because it worked for a company like Facebook, we should not get ahead of ourselves: the $200 billion dollar monster is not a point of reference for the rest of the web.

What does the future hold for Native Advertising on mobile, and is it 'all that' it is hyped up to be?

1. Native Advertising solves form, not targeting

Native Ads looks great on mobile, there is no point in denying it. Just look at the image above or pull out your cell phone and go on Facebook, half of this post’s readers probably got to this post through a native post on LinkedIn. Ad units that become part of the mobile site or an app help avoid unintended clicks and, unlike interstitial ads, create uninterrupted user experience. But this does not change the realities of the mobile ecosystem that Native Ads can't solve on their own. Even though some companies make progress in the space, there are no universally accepted practices for solving these challenges:

  • Challenges of matching users between desktop and mobile
  • The fragmented approach to behavioural targeting and retargeting on mobile

It’s hard to say what the future holds here -- juggernauts of the digital media space like Facebook, Twitter etc. have cracked it since user engagement happens on their closed platform. For brands looking to reach audience everywhere else, it means juggling various interim solutions before someone comes to disrupt and dominate the open web.

2. Slow adoption of responsive websites

I do everything I can to avoid situations where I have to look anything up on a mobile device because that means I am guaranteed to eventually come across a non-mobile friendly site. If I am on-the-go, I may as well forget it -- pinching and zooming onto a web page to read the content is laughable.

Only about 10% of the sites on the web are responsive. Small guys have very few platforms that they can use to build responsive sites, and many big dogs have overwhelming infrastructures to rebuild.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix here. We either have to roll with the punches that pre-historic web architecture has to throw until it reaches critical mass and becomes an absolute must, or we burn and reinvent the Internet from scratch knowing where it's heading now.

3. In-app Native Advertising is speculative

Building on the point above, if mobile web isn't really there yet -- could apps be the natural fit with Native Advertising? Yes and no. Depends on the execution.

For content-rich apps, such as news apps, Native Ads are a perfect solution. Unfortunately, the percentage of apps out there that are content-rich is tiny. The majority of apps are dominated by the games category. For the majority of these apps it is virtually impossible to build native ad units without turning them into glorified banners that were just moved to the middle of the page.

For gaming apps, other than sponsored in-game artefacts, it is hard to imagine native integration of advertisements. There are a couple companies that do that, but it is still on a primitive, manual, and non-scalable model.

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Summary:

Native Advertising is a natural solution for content-rich apps and responsive websites; however, it is in its infancy when it comes to elegantly solving monetization of gaming, productivity, lifestyle and messaging apps. In addition, Native Advertising faces the same challenges of reaching the right audience across devices as banner ads have on mobile.

Native Advertising is a step in the right direction in order to create a non-disruptive web and mobile experience for the users, but for brands to start paying more attention to mobile some fundamental challenges mentioned above need to be addressed first.

Topics: Blog Posts, Resources

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