the na­tive edge


Shamala D N, InMobi, elab­o­rates on the need to un­der­stand the con­text for cre­at­ing ef­fec­tive mo­bile na­tive ad­ver­tise­ments.

Over the next five years, mar­keters will espe­cially em­brace mo­bile. Mo­bile will drive up spend­ing on video, search, dis­play, and so­cial, and pro­pel the mi­gra­tion of ad dol­lars away from tra­di­tional me­dia, in­clud­ing news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines.* The In­dian sce­nario is not very dif­fer­ent—an es­ti­mated 314 mil­lion In­di­ans will have ac­cess to in­ter­net via mo­bile in 20171. This high adop­tion rate of mo­bile in­ter­net is re­defin­ing the ad­ver­tis­ing par­a­digm and ways of en­gag­ing with cus­tomers.

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has long be­come an ac­cepted ne­ces­sity for busi­nesses across the world. And mo­bile, with its al­ways-on ca­pa­bil­ity, has be­come the front-run­ner of in­no­va­tion in the dig­i­tal world. How­ever, de­spite mo­bile be­ing the fastest grow­ing and largest seg­ment of global on­line ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue, it does come with a unique set of chal­lenges— chief among these is a high level of de­pen­dence on ad for­mats such as ban­ners that orig­i­nated in the desk­top ad­ver­tis­ing world. Al­though these are be­ing used in mo­bile ad­ver­tis­ing, they are not truly mo­bile-first in form or func­tion.

Con­se­quently, mar­keters and pub­lish­ers unan­i­mously agree that the ex­ist­ing ad for­mats are dis­rup­tive and in­ef­fec­tive for mo­bile users, lead­ing to user frus­tra­tion and dis­en­gage­ment. The need of the hour is to pro­vide mo­bile­first ad for­mats that al­low for seam­less de­sign, in­creased cus­tomiza­tion, mean­ing­ful en­gage­ment, and greater re­spect for user pref­er­ences. The an­swer is na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing.

Na­tive ads solve all the chal­lenges posed by tra­di­tional mo­bile for­mats while be­ing truly mo­bile-first, mak­ing them the most valu­able. Ac­cord­ing to BI In­tel­li­gence, by 2021, na­tive dis­play ad rev­enue in the US is es­ti­mated to make up 74% of to­tal US dis­play ad rev­enue.The op­ti­mism around na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing can be at­trib­uted to sev­eral rea­sons, such as their in­her­ent mo­bile-first ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and the in­tro­duc­tion of new pro­gram­matic tech­nolo­gies that make it eas­ier for pub­lish­ers and ad­ver­tis­ers to scale na­tive cam­paigns. Hav­ing said that, the first set of na­tive ad for­mats still pose chal­lenges that need res­o­lu­tion, for na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing to truly achieve its vi­sion.

driv­ing change in In­dia

In many ways, In­dia as a mar­ket gives ad­ver­tis­ers a com­pelling rea­son to look at na­tive ads. This gen­er­a­tion of ‘new-to-net’ users will likely ex­pe­ri­ence the in­ter­net for the first time not on a PC, but on a phone. We are wit­ness­ing high mo­bile adop­tion rates in In­dia and ‘na­tive’ is just right for these al­ways-con­nected users. Na­tive ads fit seam­lessly into the in­ter­face, en­gage and draw them with con­tent that is rel­e­vant and in con­text with their in-that-mo­ment mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence.

ad for­mats

There are sev­eral for­mats to con­sider when delv­ing into mo­bile na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing. While choos­ing the right one, one must en­sure that the site en­vi­ron­ment and mar­ket­ing ob­jec­tives are aligned to meet the same goals.

In­dia as a mar­ket gives ad­ver­tis­ers a com­pelling rea­son to look at na­tive ads.

news feed: Ads that de­liver spon­sored news feeds in the pub­lisher’s app. Ideal for edi­to­rial and news apps, and a fa­vorite with pre­mium brand ad­ver­tis­ers look­ing to drive en­gage­ment.

chat list: Ads that blend seam­lessly with user-gen­er­ated con­tent in a chat list. Ideal for those look­ing to drive brand aware­ness or con­tent en­gage­ment.

con­tent stream: Ads that mimic the app’s con­tent and ap­pear in-stream. Ideal for so­cial net­work­ing apps, and pop­u­lar among ad­ver­tis­ers to drive brand aware­ness and con­tent en­gage­ment.

con­tent wall: Ads for apps with multi-tile lay­out such as news and en­ter­tain­ment. Those look­ing to en­gage au­di­ence with con­tent such as read, view, watch, or lis­ten should opt for this lay­out. carousel: Im­age-heavy in­ter­ac­tive ad lay­out which is good for photo and video apps. A must for ad­ver­tis­ers look­ing to lever­age sto­ry­telling as a tool, in a non-intrusive fash­ion.

app wall: Good for fit­ting spon­sored con­tent into a pub­li­ca­tion that draws upon a list-of­fer view. It is mostly used for of­fer walls, app rec­om­men­da­tion sites, and app direc­to­ries. Ideal if you are look­ing to drive in­stalls or traf­fic to the con­tent.

Chat list ads blend seam­lessly blend with user­gen­er­ated con­tent in a chat list.

na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing tips for mo­bile mar­keters

Tip 1: pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery as­pect of your ad Na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing should match the unique user ex­pe­ri­ence. Take ev­ery small de­tail into con­sid­er­a­tion— from the app you are us­ing to the head­line and lan­guage of the ad it­self.

Na­tive ads are not sup­posed to look or feel like ads; they should be sub­tle in tone and cre­ate value for both your busi­ness and users. This means pro­vid­ing use­ful in­for­ma­tion about your prod­uct that di­rectly ad­dresses your con­sumers’ needs.

Tip 2: fol­low a tried and true for­mula

Na­tive ads are con­tent-rich and need care­ful thought to plan and pro­duce. The edi­to­rial process can eat into the ef­fi­ciency of a per­for­mance mar­ket­ing team. In or­der to cre­ate a scal­able process, cre­ate a work­able tem­plate you can use for your na­tive ads in­stead of start­ing over with a new ap­proach each time. That way, you can fo­cus on ex­am­in­ing per­for­mance and find­ing out what works.

Tip 3: keep test­ing

Do not ex­pect to get re­sults from just one video or post. Con­sumers will need to see your na­tive ads mul­ti­ple times be­fore they start pay­ing at­ten­tion. If your first at­tempt at

na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing does not achieve the de­sired re­sults, do not give up. And, as you keep launch­ing cam­paigns, be sure to con­tinue test­ing, learn­ing, and op­ti­miz­ing them by lis­ten­ing to your data.

Tip 4: take ad­van­tage of pro­gram­matic ad­ver­tis­ing to im­prove ROI

You or your in-house sales team sim­ply can­not iden­tify all of the dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist right now. So, be sure to take ad­van­tage of ac­cess to real-time in­ven­tory at scale—at a price you can pay—of­fered by pro­gram­matic ad­ver­tis­ing plat­forms. When used ef­fec­tively, new tech­nolo­gies give ad­ver­tis­ers the abil­ity to tap into pro­gram­matic de­mand for na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing, which in turn will al­low you to scale your ad buy­ing and put rel­e­vant ads di­rectly in front of your con­sumers us­ing real-time data.

Tip 5: dis­close your na­tive ads

Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC) an­nounced in June 2015 that pub­lish­ers will be held re­spon­si­ble for mis­lead­ing na­tive ads. Un­til re­cently, it has not held pub­lish­ers, in­clud­ing TV net­works, ra­dio sta­tions, web­sites, or apps re­spon­si­ble for de­cep­tive ads on their prop­er­ties—these pub­lish­ers were con­sid­ered to be just a dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nel. But when pub­lish­ers are cre­at­ing con­tent such as na­tive ads, FTC and other reg­u­la­tory bod­ies con­sider them to be more in­volved in the process and that cre­ates a po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity.

There are no of­fi­cial la­bel­ing guide­lines for na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing from FTC. For ex­am­ple, Google uses the word ‘ads’ while Face­book uses ‘spon­sored post’ to mark their na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing con­tent. But for now, keep in mind you should al­ways clearly la­bel your na­tive ads as such.

Na­tive ads look like a rare win-win for the in­dus­try—more ef­fec­tive for ad­ver­tis­ers, more valu­able for pub­lish­ers and more ac­cept­able for users.

a hid­den op­por­tu­nity

As the mo­bile wave is grip­ping In­dia, mar­keters should de­sign ads for en­gage­ment, in­flu­enc­ing opin­ions and build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the con­sumer. Na­tive, if done right, can do all of these things well. Clearly, na­tive ads look like a rare win-win for the in­dus­try—more ef­fec­tive for ad­ver­tis­ers, more valu­able for pub­lish­ers, and more ac­cept­able for users. Its suit­abil­ity for the mo­bile, so­cial, and video con­texts means that growth in na­tive will con­trib­ute the large bulk of in­creased dig­i­tal dis­play spend. It is time mar­keters changed their think­ing from in­ter­rup­tion to en­gage­ment. ■

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