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The term "native advertising" remains murky, but there's money in the murk—marketers are increasing their spending on native, however the term is defined, according to a new eMarketer report, “Native Advertising Update: Marketers See Healthy Spending Growth in 2015.”
Of course there is no single reason to use native advertising, and the executives interviewed by eMarketer highlighted a variety of benefits. One appreciated its ability to drive viewers to owned media. Another liked it as a way to get around ad clutter. And more than one emphasized the value of native in a world that is increasingly mobile, where screens are small and content is consumed via feeds.
But of all the benefits discussed, one in particular was raised by almost every marketer we spoke with: engagement. Native advertising, they said, has an unusual ability to generate interaction and win consumers' attention.
"Traditional digital advertising has become wallpaper. It doesn't improve anyone's experience on a site and readers, myself included, pretty much look past it. ... Brands that have a strong point of view and great partners to help them express it can enjoy massive engagement [with native],” said GE’s global head, media strategy, Jason Hill.
The executives we interviewed cited numerous challenges tied to native advertising efforts, but the most common of all was the issue of scale—how to reach a sufficiently large audience. Measurement was also a problem.
Native is tough to execute, difficult to measure and hard to scale, but never mind that—marketers expect to see spending on native rise over the next 12 to 18 months.
"We've taken most of the dollars that we put behind digital display into native types of programs and media partnerships,” said Hill. “We expect to continue the approach, but to evolve and innovate so these programs feel fresh and compelling. However, there are still markets where we do digital display."
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