Nudge’s Founder Thinks You May Be Making These Crucial Native Ad Mistakes

This decade, native advertising has been one of the hottest—and most controversial—media trends. It’s been heralded as both a savior of the media business and a slayer of reader trust. The truth likely falls somewhere in the middle.

Like it or not, native advertising has become a key revenue stream for publishers and a go-to tactic for advertisers. But does it work? We tried to answer that question in a large-scale study last year of consumer opinion towards native advertising. Ben Young, CEO and Founder of Nudge, has taken a different approach, building an entire business around helping brands measure the effectiveness of their native advertising campaigns.

This summer, I sat down with Ben to discuss the most important native advertising metrics, Facebook’s ad scandals, and the big native ad mistakes you’re probably making. Check out video of our interview below, which was created as part of our Accountable Innovation Series in partnership with Magnet Media, an industry-leading global strategic studio.


Joe Lazauskas: I’m here with Dan Young, CEO and founder of Nudge. My New York drinking buddy. Normally, I’m just grilling you at DBA, but now I get to do it here in Cannes, which is kind of awesome.

Ben Young: What a venue, what a venue. Cheers.

Lazauskas: Cheers, man. So, we’re gonna put you on the hot seat. Five rapid-fire questions. Are you ready?

Young: Yeah, I’m ready.

Lazauskas: Alright, to start, native advertising on a scale of one to ten, how overhyped is it?

Young: I think it’s the right amount of hype for 2017. I think the hype has come down a bit. The late adopters are coming in. So I think it’s probably about right.

Lazauskas: What are the three most important engagement metrics that you look at?

Young: How we think about this is reach and quality. So today you can reach anyone, anywhere, through all the distribution features. The challenge is, did you meaningfully reach them? The things we look at are social engagement—is the right ratio of people sharing the content?—because that’s a proof point that’s resonated with the audience. Sharing is such an organic behavior now.

The other thing we look at is scroll. Are people actually scrolling through on video, completing the video? If the average is over half, then you’re resonated really well with that audience. The other one is attention. Did I reach someone and did they spend a significant amount of time with my content? If you hit your reach goal and a quality goal, you’ve done really well.

Lazauskas: Now something we’ve talked about a lot off the record and off camera is Facebook video. It’s had a ton of controversy over the last year.

Young: Yeah.

Lazauskas: Facebook video metrics, BS or …

Young: Every few months they’re uncovering extra issues that they’ve had. I think Nielsen said that up until December last year, a lot of video views were over-counted up to twentyfold. That makes a big challenge for advertisers to understand what’s actually working. The framework that we think about is, as you scroll down, if you see a video and carry on scrolling, also playing in that scenario is almost just like a banner impression. I’ve seen it, but I haven’t really engaged. We’re chatting with advertisers saying, “Look at the autoplays, but also look at the intent plays. How long are people staying on?” And again, if they hit that reach in quality, then the video has done it’s job.

Lazauskas: So unlike me, you have a badge, you’ve been going around, you’ve been checking out Cannes. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen?

Young: Coolest thing I’ve seen? The beach cabanas. It’s surprising, on one side, they don’t look that inviting, but when you get in there, there’s actually a good crew. There’s really interesting and smart people. I’ve been quite surprised at how like-minded everyone is.

Lazauskas: Last question: rosé or frosé?

Young: Definitely frosé when you’re in Cannes.

Lazauskas: Alright, cheers to that. Thanks, man.

Image by iStockphoto

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