I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that as a digital marketer in 2016, you’ve at least flirted with the idea of video advertising. Given the right creative talent, it is easier than ever to develop and distribute video on a shoestring budget. But what about after the video is launched? Of course, everyone and their grandmother will be asking about conversions… After all, new customers are the point of advertising. But what other metrics can confirm that your video advertising is successful? Continue reading “Video Marketing Metrics You Should Care About (Other Than Conversions)”
Native advertising is new, which makes it prone to controversy. Detractors question the media’s objectivity and the potential for misleading consumers — an issue that has been well discussed elsewhere. But the derision of native advertising has failed to slow its advance for obvious reasons: The advertising world used to be way worse, media companies have to make money somehow, and consumers actually prefer native ads.
For a more thorough understanding of this relatively new field, I spoke with Vitaly Pecherskiy. The native-advertising expert is COO of StackAdapt, a platform for distributing content through native and video advertising channels. His company has conducted research on the trends and behaviors driving this form of marketing.
Putting aside the hype, it’s worth considering Pecherskiy’s four reasons why companies should try native advertising.
1. Loyalty Brands Are Winning
Pay-per-click marketing does one thing: make the sale. It targets would-be consumers with an ad that follows them on the internet and forces its way onto every screen. In a very low percentage of situations, pay-per-click’s repetitious reminders ultimately succeed in getting that click. An equally small proportion of clicks will result in conversions. In the end, a consumer becomes a customer and money is exchanged for goods and services in a very transactional, one-off basis.
Unfortunately, that’s all pay-per-click ads can hope to accomplish — capture prospects when they are ready to make a purchase. This strategy may work for established brands. But waiting for leads to come in simply doesn’t work for smaller or younger brands that struggle to garner enough searches for their companies or products in the first place.
“Native advertising gives companies the opportunity to intellectually establish a bond with their customers through content,” Pecherskiy says. “Their ads are more than a picture and a discount. They are aimed at the heart of the consumer’s values and lifestyle. By forging that connection, companies create loyal customers who return time and again.”
2. Consumers Don’t Want to be Sold
Millennials, in particular, recognize then you’re selling to them. And they hate it. StackAdapt research reveals that 51 percent of 18- to 44-year-olds are more likely to trust branded content than traditional advertising.
This trend can be seen everywhere you look. Young people use ad blockers and trust influencers more than they rely on television commercials. Done the right way, native advertising shouldn’t bother anyone’s sensibilities. In fact, it’s a positive move for society. Advertising should have a basis in real ideas, not just pestering ads and slogans.
3. Native Advertising Expands Your Agile Marketing Abilities
A product’s best feature might not sound particularly cool without some unpacking. Buick turned to native advertising to overcome such a problem. The car manufacturer wanted to emphasize the value of a 24-hour test drive, so it placed an ad to walk viewers through a fun-filled Saturday from start to finish — trips to the park, lots of food and good friends. The company plugged the test drive at the close of the ad, asking, “How can you experience life over the next 24 hours? Experience the New Buick.”
Making a test drive into a relatable thing that connects with consumers on a lifestyle level is an accomplishment. And it is best accomplished through a medium that users already enjoy: entertaining or insightful content.
4. Ads Can Express Real Ideas
Good native advertising has very little to do with a product or service and everything to do with an idea that elicits an emotion, educates and entertains. This method affords companies the opportunity to weigh in on social issues, make people laugh and widen consumers’ horizons through high-quality content. It’s important to note that this is precisely the type of content people seek out.
“The ability to advertise by communicating good ideas has to be a positive shift for society,” Pecherskiy says. “In an economy that is accustomed to aggressive advertising and companies that will do anything to make a sale, native advertising is a breath of fresh air.”
America’s corporations always have had an important voice in our culture. Native advertising gives them a platform to project good ideas instead of promoting unfiltered consumerism.
What is native outstream video? Some marketers call it “in-text”, “in-line”, or “in-article”, and while there is still disagreement over the terminology, one thing all marketers can agree on is that Native Outstream Video is…
VIDEO THAT DOESN’T INTERRUPT
Shifting consumer behaviour demands that brand experiences be less interruptive, and the rise of mobile calls for a video format that addresses the evolved digital media landscape. With these considerations in mind, native outstream video is gaining huge momentum in the industry.
Here are the top 5 reasons media buyers are falling head over heels for native outstream:
1. Always Viewable
The term “viewability” is a desperate attempt to regulate ad formats built 20 years ago and does not address the reality of today’s largest channel, the web. Because the native oustream format was born at a time when publishers were already taking the mobile-first approach to building their properties, the format is viewable by design.
Native outstream video auto-plays only when in view and pauses if the viewer scrolls past. Since playtime is not forced, but is rather determined by user activity, this format is serving advertisers hungry for deep, accurate data.
2. True Completions
Unlike pre-roll video that doesn’t pause when a user scrolls past, completions for native outstream video are ‘true’ in the sense that the video only plays through while in view. This means that every video completion was actually watched by the user from start to finish. And isn’t this the ultimate goal of every advertiser?
3. Massive Scale on Tier 1 Publishers
Video advertising on Tier 1 sites has historically been largely reserved for direct deals due to the limited inventory designed for pre-roll format. Native outstream allows Tier 1 publishers to monetize not only video content but also editorial content. This additional scale gives advertisers access hundreds of Tier 1 publishers, and most notably, scale programmatically run campaigns.
4. Support for Long Form Format
With more brands looking to create value adding content, the length of videos has gone up significantly. The barrier that many marketers are running into is that most pre-roll inventory only supports video up to 30 seconds. The native outstream format provides marketers with a content distribution channel for long form video
5. Superior Performance
Automatic play and pause not only render this format highly viewable, but also guarantee that completed views more accurately demonstrate user intent than more traditional formats. Because of the scale of inventory and the non-interruptive nature of the format, marketers find native outstream very cost effective on the cost-per-completed-view metric. In addition, StackAdapt has noted that these ads, loaded in-view, yield a five to 10 times higher click-through-rates than their pre-roll counterparts. Perfect for mobile, this format is spreading like wildfire throughout the industry.
While there are many benefits to native oustream, the main challenge is that the majority of brands are only now catching up to the idea that they should start including subtitles in their videos. According to Digiday, only 15% of videos played on Facebook are viewed with sound on. Things are better with native outstream, clocking in around 50% of videos viewed soundlessly, which is certainly better for advertisers.
Understanding how to make the most of your outstream video content can be a challenge. According to StackAdapt COO Vitaly Pecherskiy, “We are starting to notice more videos accompanied by subtitles or high impact text to ensure people who watch video without sound can understand what is being said. All things considered, we can see that video creation for the modern web is still in its infancy.”
Whether you are generating campaigns for clients or for your own brand, it’s an important fact that video has taken hold of the advertising industry. Organizations that value audience engagement through storytelling are leading the way through compelling video content that speaks to their audiences, and distributing said content through the native outstream format.
To quote Brian Halligan of HubSpot, “To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products.”
Anna Zhao, Content Strategist at Quietly, shares the do’s and dont’s of branded content.
Brands were creating content for years and years before content marketing became a “thing.” It’s just that now, what we consider to be content has revitalized marketing.
It’s rare that you find a game-changing technology that’s likely to change the advertising business model as much as native advertising. Continue reading “Native Advertising 101: Examples of Native Ads”
The marketing and advertising industry is notorious for inventing new acronyms and terms du jour. Some of them grow into behemoths like content marketing, while others, such as interstitial native, have an embarrassingly short life span.
In Mythbusters’ fashion, today our marketing team at StackAdapt is going to dissect a recently surfaced term, content advertising to see where it came from, what it is made of and if it has any right to remain part of our marketing lingo in the year 2015.
Not necessarily a portmanteau, the term is crafted by putting together ‘content marketing’ and ‘advertising’:
Advertising is described as a form of non-personal promotion. It’s about communicating value proposition of a product or service at scale. Historically, it’s been a one-way communication.
I am sure at this point you have read the Content Marketing Institute’s definition: Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is about connecting with consumers without selling to them. It is about delivering educational, entertaining and always value-adding content to consumers to enrich their web browsing experience.
Because content marketing is fundamentally about delivering value through content (education, entertainment, inspiration), it is particularly successful in this day and age because of the wide adoption of social networks. Without social networks, it is hard to imagine content going viral the way it does now.
Consumers’ ability to have a two-way dialogue through sharing content gave marketers a tremendous opportunity to leverage organic social and search traffic to have their content discovered by consumers. However, due to oversaturation of the web with brand and user generated content, it has been becoming harder and harder to break through to reach consumers leveraging only organic channels. If you have a Facebook page, you may have noticed a fairly recent addition of a ‘Boost’ feature to quickly add more exposure to your content for additional exposure.
Content advertising is rarely written about, and what is written, is often outdated. Content advertising is not text ads. We define it as:
Content advertising is a marketing strategy to produce value-adding content with a primary function of distributing it through a paid channel.
Naturally, content advertising (overarching strategy) and native advertising (distribution channel) go hand-in-hand. While all content will likely go up on the brand blog or content hub and be shared on social media networks, the production of content that is used for paid distribution can be done differently.
Content produced with SEO in mind can largely leverage existing or potential keyword search opportunities. Content produced with social media networks in mind can be designed to be shareable and thus be largely visual and ‘snack-able.’
Content produced with the sole purpose of paid distribution can bring up topics that aren’t actively searched by people, or very shareable, but that can be very impactful. It gives brands an opportunity to deliver personable content to people without conforming to rules of search or social to have it discovered. It can truly focus on the end-goal – having an impact.
In-feed native advertising (often referred to as ‘In-stream native advertising’) is one of the forms of native advertising to deliver a preview of branded content amongst other stories on a publisher’s property. Continue reading “In-Feed Native Advertising Explained”
The native advertising industry continues to boom. In the US alone, eMarketer predicts $4.5B in 2015 to go towards content sponsorships, native ad integrations, and programmatic native channels. What is particularly notable is the growth rate. The industry that piggybacks on the massive trend of content marketing, is expecting to grow 45% from 2014, and continue growing at the 25% rate for 3 years after.
It is not surprising that more marketers are catching up on the terminology trying to make sense of the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising. It seems as though new companies claiming to do Native Advertising is popping up every week, and as more buyers starting to invest in it for content distribution, more clarification is needed to distinguish the two fundamentally different buying and selling concepts: Programmatic Native Advertising Platforms vs. Native Ad Networks.
Native Ad Networks
A natural stage in scaling new ad formats a.k.a. solving ‘chicken and egg’. It always starts the same way — buyers want to buy a new ad format which isn’t available on publishers’ sites since they don’t yet see the dollars for such ad formats. Ad networks help aggregate supply and demand to start pushing new formats forward.
Ad networks dominated early 2000’s in banner advertising, and Native Ad Networks were brands’ go-to partner to buy and sell native until late 2013. Traditionally they are characterized by working directly with both publishers and advertisers. While this is certainly a step up from having advertiser directly reach out to publishers for advertising campaigns, Native Ad Networks are limited by:
- Conflict of Interest. Advertisers look to get the lowest CPM rates, while publishers look to get the highest CPMs possible. Ad networks have to constantly juggle the two sides without bringing 100% efficiencies to just one side.
- Arbitrage. Ad Networks don’t operate on dynamic CPM model, hence, there are opportunities for arbitrage and sky-high margins. An Ad Network negotiates the CPM price for ad inventory, which it later resells to advertisers.
- Limited scale and targeting. Because inventory price is pre-negotiated, impressions are not sold on impression-by-impression level. Which means advertisers pay even for users they aren’t interested in advertising to.
Aside some obvious drawbacks, Ad Networks bring value in offering custom units that aren’t often sold through programmatic channels. They also are able to guarantee impressions, which platforms can’t do in a real-time bidding environment.
Programmatic Native Advertising Platforms
Unlike ad networks, platforms are characterized by:
- Focus. Represent either supply-side (publishers) or demand-side (advertisers). This allows a platform to have laser-focus on maximizing returns for the party they represent. Publishers make more money with supply-side platforms (SSP), while advertisers get stronger return on investment when working with demand-side platforms (DSP).
- Real time. Buying and selling of Native Ads happen on impression-by-impression level in a real-time bidding marketplace type of environment. This allows buyers to leverage 1st and 3rd party data to bid only on an audience of interest. For example, being able to buy native ad impressions only for males 25-34 in Toronto who are actively looking for a new mid-size vehicle.
- Tight control over impressions. Programmatic platforms allow for frequency capping to ensure users aren’t overly exposed to the same message. This ensures good user experience on publisher site, as well as strong ROI for advertisers.
- Scale. Because programmatic platforms are heavily relying on technology, their buying and selling capacity is much more scalable. That mean DSPs can work with dozens of Native Ad exchanges to buy native ad inventory, and SSPs can plug into dozens of DSPs to sell native ads.
When we start diving into the topics of Native Advertising, it comes as no surprise that the fundamental question that needs to be answered first is: “What is a native ad?”; and this is the question that we’ll kick off our series with. First, let’s try to distinguish two similar sounding terms — Native Advertising versus a Native ad.
- Native Advertising is a strategy to seamlessly present branded content to a consumer.
- Native Ad is the product of the strategy.
Native Ad is a paid advertisement that resembles the form of the content that appears on the publisher property or a platform. As a strategy Native Advertising is largely dominated by content-driven message from an advertiser. An advertiser produces branded content (articles, videos etc.) or works with a publisher’s editorial staff to develop sponsored content, and then seeks ways to distribute it to reach the target audience. (Stay tuned for follow up posts to learn more about the difference between Branded and Sponsored content). To get the content in front of the target audience, an advertiser can approach Native Advertising in two forms of the ad units:
- Distribute branded content through snippets of content preview natively integrated in the publisher’s site or a platform.
- Integrate sponsored content entirely on the publisher’s property.
Here is an example of an ad (content preview) on a social media platform. Volkswagen works with Twitter to drive users to their content hub:
Content snippets are called In-Stream Native Ads. Here is an example of this unit from ContactMonkey on a publisher’s property:
Here is the ad that comes in a form of sponsored content that is fully integrated in the publisher property. GE works with The Economist in this example:
To summarize, a Native Ad, regardless of where the content is hosted, is an advertisement that preserves the ‘look and feel’ and closely aligns with the property that it is displayed on.
Native Advertising is a way to present either entire sponsored content or a snippet of the branded content. The fundamental differentiator of Native Advertising is that unlike other forms of disruptive advertising (think popup ads, or page takeovers), it presents advertiser’s message without interrupting user experience on the site or platform.
The first time I heard about the ‘goose bumps test’ was when I listened to one of my favourite radio shows, Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1. A former megastar electro ensemble, Swedish House Mafia, explained that they use it every time they write music. “Goose bumps never lie” – claimed the musicians. (Listen to that show here.)
Back in 2010 I didn’t think much of it, but as time passed ‘Goose bumps never lie’ started to mean a lot more, now that I am trying to dig deeper and deeper into the topic of content creation and distribution and understanding how users engage with brand messaging when it is presented in an interruptive format (pre-roll, pop-up, interstitials) vs. involvement (native advertising).
First thing’s first, why do we get goose bumps when we listen to music or watch a video?
‘In 2001, neuroscientists Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre at McGill University in Montreal provided an answer. Using magnetic resonance imaging they showed that people listening to pleasurable music had activated brain regions called the limbic and paralimbic areas which are connected to euphoric reward responses.’ – BBC.co.uk
‘A Team of Canadian researchers suggest that when we are moved by music, our brains behave as if reacting to delicious food, psychoactive drugs, or money. The pleasure experience is driven by the “reward” chemical dopamine, which has been linked to addiction. It produces physical effects known as “chills” that cause changes in the skin’s electrical conductance, heart rate, breathing and temperature.’ – cmuse.org
So it comes down to two elements when it comes to creating content – be it video or music – that evokes goose bumps: buildup and a sudden change. It is all about tricking the brain into thinking that it knows what is coming up and then introducing a sudden change – new instrument, new plot line, unique perspective to a common topic etc.
Let’s see it in action. This recent Nike ad from Wieden+Kennedy takes a unique turn during a basketball game:
P&G puts things in the perspective in this touching video:
What is interesting is that sad themes that give you goose bumps can often induce positive feelings. ‘One of the most intriguing explanations for music’s “chill” effect has been offered by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. Neurobiologist Jaak Panksepp found that people more often feel chills or goose bumps when listening to music when the music evokes a sad feeling or is compounded by a sad memory, as opposed to happy feelings or positive memories. He thinks this may be due to evolution – this response may be similar to those our ancestors felt when they heard the cry of a lost loved one bringing about a desire for close physical contact and keeping families together.’ – Mental Floss
And to prove that you don’t have to be a mega brand to create content that is both amazing and touching, here is an example of an amazing piece created by a small shop – Green Shoe Studio: