President and CEO
Justin Choi, founder and CEO of native advertising platform Nativo, recently spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher about the future of native advertising, particularly its growing popularity thanks to issues of ad quality and ad blocking. He also shared his predictions for programmatic’s influence on this ad format in 2016.
eMarketer: What trends do you expect to see in native advertising in 2016?
Justin Choi: Native began to get a ton of attention in the second half of 2015 thanks to the importance of many other digital trends, everything from ad fraud and viewability to ad blocking. Our advertisers are actually starting to use words like “customer experience” and being really mindful of ad executions that are less interruptive and more engagement-oriented.
With all of these issues, particularly ad blocking, any technical workaround is not going to be a long-term solution if the quality of the advertising experience is poor. So if native becomes an irritable form of advertising, if any advertising becomes irritable and delivers a bad experience, there’s going to be an ad block for it.
“If native becomes an irritable form of advertising, if any advertising becomes irritable and delivers a bad experience, there’s going to be an ad block for it.”
eMarketer: With native poised to take off in 2016, do you foresee the potential for native to evolve into an advertising experience that could be considered irritating? In the past, when the industry has moved to a new format, there has been a push to jam and cram ads to try and get volume. Do you foresee this issue happening with native?
Choi: We foresee it being a pressure. Eventually, we do see the whole advertising industry having some type of native offering. Whether it’s truly native or not, they’re going to have some kind of ad that’s in the feed.
And you’re right, that’s the fear, that native will go on a downward spiral once everyone jams into that position. And then you will have some players that won’t deliver or aren’t mindful of the user experiences or long-term viability of a publisher.
But I think the difference this time is that the publishers are smarter about it. And advertisers are now on board with wanting to deliver good user experiences to consumers. That’s one of the positives around ad blocking: People are starting to pay attention to quality. But when I say “user experiences” I don’t just mean ad blocking—I mean things like ad load speeds and site performance that people haven’t been mindful of.
“When I say ‘user experiences,’ I don’t just mean ad blocking—I mean things like ad load speeds and site performance that people haven’t been mindful of.”
eMarketer: What other trends are you seeing?
Choi: One is native video. Native and video are often separated into two buckets. But this year, in-feed video will become a big focal point, largely driven by Facebook. And I think people will start to realize that native is a placement and video a form of content, and that the two actually work together.
eMarketer: It’s hard to ignore the momentum behind Facebook’s in-feed video. But what about the rest of the publishing community? Are they looking to migrate to native with video in mind?
Choi: Right now, they’re at risk of getting caught flatfooted, and Facebook is taking a huge chunk of the dollars before publishers really get up and going. It’s not that publishers don’t have the capability now, but we’re finding they’re not moving as quickly as they could to get ahead of the trend here.
eMarketer: One thing we’re excited about is native programmatic for 2016. Any specific predictions here?
Choi: What we’re seeing is a desire to aggregate or to automate some of the native relationships they have across different publishers.
Even though native is starting to scale, for advertisers, it’s still a very one-to-one relationship with publishers. There are some companies out there saying there is programmatic native, but the reality is that it hasn’t taken off yet. But what we’re seeing from the brand side is they’re actually starting to try and automate those relationships with publishers. But they’re not just looking for pure ad-tech-type solutions. They want solutions that are more programmatic content-focused. So one of the predictions that we’re making for 2016 is that from a brand perspective, programmatic native isn’t the trend, programmatic content is.
“From a brand perspective, programmatic native isn’t the trend, programmatic content is.”
Native just happens to be the placement, and programmatic is the way to scale those efforts around content across device. Content is a way to engage customers in a much more meaningful manner than just plopping ads in front of them.
That’s why video is a huge part of the content strategy. And as far as where video content was typically thought of for television, we think that with the ability to scale and with native placements, the brands that will invest in content will also invest heavily in video content and look to scale that across different placements. That’s why in 2016, I predict we’ll start to see the days of video living across different screens and a siloed buy going away.