Native Ads Need To Fight The Quick-Fix Pressure

As AdWeek points out, marketers are shifting budgets from banners to native ads. From the breaking news centers at NBC News to the brain-break aficionados at BuzzFeed, media’s biggest names are eager to blend brand-sponsored content with engaging editorial experiences.

On paper, everybody wins. Publishers get more money. Brands get a creative way to advertise. Audiences get free content. Native ads are so big that advertising like Google are making big investments in core technology. In other words, this thing is probably not going away any time soon. The big lesson for brands is that they need to strike a balance between committing quickly to this growing format, and thinking about long-term, sustainable quality.

Marketers, publishers, and brands need to set high standards, and meet the mark. 

One wrong user experience turnwill instantly shift native ads from elegant to ugly. Consumers are pickyand will notice even subtle examples of a cheaply produced ad. They want value, not ‘sponsored.’

Push consumers too hard, and native adds will fail. That’s why display lost its efficacy. Somewhere along the road, people stopped clicking and trained their minds to ignore the closest semblance of an ad. UX experts call it ‘banner blindness.’ Technologists call it ‘pop-up blockers.’ Consumers call it ‘annoying.’

Native ads give brands, consumers, and publishers a chance to start over, but what happens when they hesitate?

Ben Winkler, chief digital officer at OMD, explains that publishers that hesitate on whether to commit to native ads could end up losing significant media budget. For any revenue team, that’s scary news.

“If a publisher doesn’t offer native advertising and our client only wants to buy native advertising, the publisher loses that buy,” said Winkler to AdWeek.

Publishers who aren’t running native ads suffer a significant opportunity cost. In other words, the pressure’s on to get up and running. And this might mean that some publishers start cutting corners on quality in the name of being early adopters.

Publishers need to think long-term when it comes to native ads.

There are no shortcuts for careful and rigorous planning, and quality can’t be faked. A halfhearted or quick-hits approach to  user value will result in users mentally blocking out native ads just they way the did with banner ads. And then there won’t be much of a point to it.

There will (and already are) money-chasers in the native ads business who will ultimately lose. But NBC News seems to be thinking the right strategy.

Peter Naylor, EVP of digital media at NBC News Digital Group told AdWeek:”We’re still looking for the right content and the right advertiser—everyone’s open for it, but we’re not going to force it in.”

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