Native advertising and the programmatic ecosystem.

The history of native advertising dates back to the 1950s, long before the Internet and digital revolution came up. The first ad that can be considered native was produced by David Ogilvy and it was a Guinness guide to oysters. This publication discussed different kind of oysters and the marketing part was about how drinking Guinness can enhance the taste of oysters.

A lot has changed since then, though. Native advertising of modern digital area offers plethora of different ad formats, from small widgets to in-feed content marketing to long sponsored articles. More than half of digital display ad spending now goes to native advertising if we include social media (source eMarketer), so its popularity is definitely on the rise. On the other hand, it is still not as widely adopted as traditional display when it comes to programmatic and in our opinion the reasons to that are mainly technological.

Programmatic native

The promise of native advertising transacted programmatically includes the same benefits as native advertising in general, namely higher CTRs, higher engagement rates and better user experience, but also embraces the positive aspects of programmatic media trading – automation, efficiency and highly granular targeting (source Marketingland). And such ads may be displayed outside of social media meaning there is an opportunity to reach users who are not on Facebook or reach users in a different context.

However, in our opinion there is one factor that hampers the adoption of programmatic native, and it is the lack of standardization. A typical native ad consists of a graphic part and a text part, and these both parts need to make a creative that adjusts to and looks naturally within the content of the website. When it comes to programmatic, this process needs to be fully automated and reflected in bid requests/bid responses, and apparently the industry has not come up with a fully working standard yet.

Needless to say, prebid.js for native is in a nascent state (source The list of platforms is limited and this standard works only on mobile web for now.

However, as the demand for programmatic native grows, it is likely we will see it becoming more standardized and easier to adopt. At Waytogrow we fully support all endeavours aimed at making programmatic native a commonly used solution on the market.

Native ad networks

While fully embracing programmatic native might not be an easy task, native ad networks are certainly worth giving a try. They usually mix direct and programmatic demand and build solutions that are not only easy to implement, but also offer additional benefits publishers should be aware of.

First of all, beyond pure advertising these networks usually deliver also content recommendation engines. It means that you can not only grow your ad revenues thanks additional ad formats and incremental demand, but also as a result of increasing the volume of traffic in a fully legit way. As the widgets suggest which article a user should view, they are more likely to stay longer on website and view more pages, and it creates a revenue opportunity. What is more, based on our own experience we can say that such additional traffic goes hand in hand with a lower bounce rate, which is also beneficial.

Second, some native platforms offer affiliate programs, which are also some kind of content recommendation engines, but driving traffic to and from web properties belonging to other publishers. While you obviously need to be careful where are you suggesting your users to go and from where are they suggested to visit your website, a smart combination of internal and external content recommendation might do a lot of good for your business.

Which way should I go?

Native advertising, including programmatic native ads, is definitely a valuable solution and as long as there is a chance to embed it in a publishers editorial content, they should go for it. And last but not least, there is one more thing certainly worth mentioning here. As 3rd party cookies are dying, any advertising that is less dependent on behavioural targeting will probably gain momentum, and it is certainly the case for native. As this type of ads adjust to or even mimic the content of a website, they depend more on the context than on cookie-based targeting. So once cookies are dead, there will likely still be place for quality, context-relevant ads, which is basically what native advertising is all about.

Want to know more about native advertising and other aspects of the sell-side of programmatic?
E-mail us at [email protected]!


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