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Most internet users in Western Europe dislike traditional digital ad formats like banners, and many are installing ad blocking software on their devices. In response, marketers increasingly aim to engage audiences with native advertising, a more contextually relevant, content-based experience, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Native Advertising in Western Europe: Paid Content Placements Gain Fans Throughout the Region” (eMarketer PRO customers only).
According to Enders Analysis, spending on native advertising in Europe is surging, as marketers try to combat consumer disapproval of traditional ad formats, such as banners, pop-ups and autoplay videos. Expenditures jumped by a third in 2015 alone.
The main reason advertisers and marketers are turning to native advertising is because most consumers don’t respond well to traditional digital ad formats, such as banners.
Trust is a central issue for consumers. In a September 2015 Nielsen study, online video ads, banner ads and ads in search engine results were among the least-trusted types of marketing for internet users ages 15 and older worldwide.
Residents in Europe are a relatively skeptical lot, too. According to Nielsen, web users are less likely than those elsewhere to trust any ad format. For example, just 27% of internet users in Europe polled said they trust banner ads, compared with at least 41% in all other regions.
Beyond the lack of trust, the majority of internet users dislike most digital display ads. According to Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, 31% of online UK consumers queried found traditional banner advertising distracting and would actively avoid sites where it interferes too much with the user experience. And the more intrusive the format, the more hostile the reaction. Static banner ads were more acceptable than video ads; those, in turn, were more acceptable than pop-ups.
Comparable results have been seen across Europe. January 2016 polling by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Spain (IAB Spain) found that significant shares of web users in the country rated autoplay video, audio ads, pop-ups and nonskippable pre-rolls as the most inconvenient types of ads, followed by interstitials and in-feed formats.
Despite the benefits of native advertising, getting the most out of native formats and campaigns can be difficult for both brands and publishers.
In a PulsePoint and Digiday survey of UK and US agency/brand professionals, 55% said lack of resources and budget to deliver high-quality content hampered their efforts with both native advertising and content marketing. Half cited the difficulty of measuring or proving ROI, and a third mentioned the inability to target and distribute at scale.
Ad blocking also remains an issue for advertisers and marketers. According to December 2015 polling conducted by Research Now for Teads, around one-third of adult internet users in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK had an ad blocker installed on their desktop PC, and at least 27% on their mobile device. To date, native formats have been less likely to be intercepted by ad blocking software, but this is changing as that software is refined.
“Native advertising is one way to counter ad blocking, but it doesn’t resolve the problem," said Maylis Chevalier, country manager for Spain at native and performance firm Ligatus, a Cologne-based subsidiary of the publisher Gruner+Jahr. "That requires a common effort from the entire industry—advertisers, networks, publishers and agencies—to offer consumers advertising which doesn’t intrude on their experience or indeed enriches it, so they have no reason to use an ad blocker.”
eMarketer PRO customers can view the full report here.
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