Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The NDA Roundtable PART TWO: Exploring the next generation of native advertising

NDA recently held a roundtable, in partnership with Adyoulike, to discuss the ‘Next Generation of Native Advertising. In this piece (the first writeup is here), we hear from attendees Matt Canner, Business Director at Performics @ Starcom; Liting Spalding, Head of Audience Planning and Programmatic at Havas; Matt Bushby, Head of Programmatic at Zenith; Sophie Strong, Head of Display and Social at Wavemaker UK; and Adyoulike Commercial Director, Kevin Sewell.

“Native feels like something that is just part of the contextual experience. Native is just how the digital ad experience should be.” – how Wavemaker’s Strong described native advertising during the roundtable, and it’s hard to argue with that. However, achieving this is one of the challenges that the industry faces when looking to get native right. So, how does the industry solve that problem?

Finding answers

“We have the technology in place to make it feel like the ad belongs on that page, and it’s part of that user experience,” said Strong.

“Native advertising is when you make an ad feel like it’s part of that experience on the page, and that leans heavily on how we align the data world and the creative world together to bring that experience to life. Gone is the little widget-based, clickbait at the bottom and, hopefully, in with more of those impactful, but embedded ad experiences.”

Havas’ Spalding is in agreement on the importance of making sure that the ad on a page fits seamlessly into the content around it, describing the issue as “a challenge to bring back authenticity”.

“The whole point of native formats is to be non-disruptive when people are reading through the content. As an agency, we have to align the expectations of the consumer and the advertisers that are desperately trying to put their brands forward,” said Spalding.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all. There needs to be relevant content that reaches those audiences at the right time. That’s a major challenge moving forward, in my opinion. If there’s not a meaningful impact, it’s going to have a negative impact on the brand.”

Lacking creativity

One of the challenges that spins out of the need to deliver relevant and meaningful content to consumers is the old favourite topic of creativity. In particular, Adyoulike’s Sewell points to a “disconnect with the creative agencies” when it comes to delivering native ads in the way an advertiser wants those ads to be delivered.

“There’s a huge disconnect between that content and what the capabilities of native are. The dots aren’t joined between the media that’s planned and the creative that’s made,” he said. “Planners and creatives need to align better as when this works, magic can happen.”

Zenith’s Bushby added, “It’s quite easy to do it badly and get things wrong. It’s hard but you can do a really good job with strong creative in the great content. But, if you’re not necessarily getting the creative that you need straightaway, or you’re not asking for it in the right way, then it might be quite easy to get things wrong and get things very out of place.”

Performics’ Canner took things slightly further, pointing to the lack of attention that native gets versus social and video, and the difficultly this causes in getting “quality assets and quality content”.

“Native has unfortunately been seen as second fiddle to things like social. Social assets are prioritised, video assets are rising, and native is languishing third in the pecking order quite often,” Canner explained. “We’ve had to work closely with providers to bridge that gap between the content that clients are producing, and creative agencies are creating alongside them, and what we can actually run effective campaigns on from a media perspective.”

Key Takeaways

·       Native is no longer consumer unfriendly.

·       It has to be authentic and feel like it belongs on the page, which relies on a combination of creativity and data.

·       But planners and creatives have to come together more closely to produce really good native advertising.

·       It’s shifted more toward the brand advertising part of the funnel.

·       The rise of Influencer marketing has benefitted native’s reputation.

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