Banner ads just don’t cut it anymore. It’s time to make way for some new advertising formats and ways to engage and inspire readers beyond the margins of the written page. The term ‘Native advertising’ has been getting quite a lot of buzz, with some industry pundits citing it as the ‘holy grail of advertising.’ While online and mobile display is still witnessing double-digit annual growth, according to recent polls, consumers, and especially teens, are tuning out traditional banners as they read and interact with digital content online, especially on their mobile devices.
In a consumer survey conducted by AYTM Market Research, 46.8 percent said mobile ads of any kind are “annoying” and 27.3 percent said they are “intrusive.” Moreover, 42.9 percent reported that they’ve never clicked on a mobile ad on purpose.
This is not surprising. Banner ads have become an uninspiring ad format and publishers are left with no other choice but to plop them on their sites to keep afloat. As Brian Morrissey of Digiday wrote in his article The Native Ad Fallacy, “There’s long been a hope that something will save [publishers] from the fate of banner ads traded as pork bellies, where publishers’ role becomes little more than the providers of empty vessels for data-rich targeting systems to find their preferred audiences.”
While Morissey’s article continues to spin about how simply calling ads native shouldn’t make them more valuable, his point is overshadowed by the hoards of advertisers looking to native as a way to build deeper engagement with consumers. With mobile in particular, there are several factors that limit campaign success such as small screen-size and lack of ad relevance and these can be solved through the native format.
In a significant step towards the validation of native ad formats, the publishing powerhouse Hearst launched its mobile native ad program this week, unveiling five new “sponsored features” ad units that will let brands hock their products across all of its digital platforms, including video, mobile, websites, and even social networks.
Bottom line: Consumers are sick of the status quo and brands want more vehicles for advertising beyond the shallow banner ad. Publishers are finally catching on.
The Native Ad v. Editorial Debate
Several reporters and thought leaders have voiced criticism about how native will lead to the eventual decline of journalism. As MediaBistro reported, although unlikely, it’s possible that Hearst editorial staff will now be asked to create copy for this program. Staffers may have to live with this new reality and get used to writing about things that are not really news, like “15 Things You Didn’t Know About 15 Captains, Commanders And Conquerors,” sponsored by Captain Morgan. Seriously, these are actual stories.
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