Native advertising may be the next big thing. But are MarTech platforms ready for it?
Native advertising is, first and foremost, intended to look like the content on the platform where it’s encountered. For instance, a magazine might feature content labeled as a “special section” or “sponsored content,” and place that content near other articles that relate to it. Similarly, the ads a user sees in his or her Facebook feed might look a lot like ordinary posts from friends.
This kind of advertising has been around for a long time, but it has recently become much more prominent. In an industry first, Forbes Magazine published a native ad on the cover of its March 2 issue. Below other headlines featured in a section on retirement, a similar headline promoted related content that was sponsored by Fidelity.
To some degree, the success of native ads depends on their ability to be nearly indistinguishable from the content with which they share space — and that makes them controversial. But they’re also a strong value proposition for advertisers, and the numbers are growing. BI Intelligence estimates that native ad spending may total $7.9 billion in 2015 and grow to $21 billion by 2018. The value is there, so MarTech providers have to help manage the risk.
To succeed in the native ad space, MarTech platforms must offer capabilities for the following:
Content labeling: In order to have value, MarTech platforms must already engage with (or include) a customer’s content management system to seamlessly deploy content as needed and track its metrics for success. But unlike other advertising content, native ads must be clearly labeled as ads to prevent the advertiser from losing the consumer’s trust. MarTech platforms must be able to manage these labeling requirements, preferably with fail-safe devices so the ads are not deployed without the required labeling.
Metrics of success: The evaluation of metrics will be critical to this type of advertising, both at the end of the journey — in the form of click-throughs and downloads — and at the beginning. For native social ads like those on Facebook or Twitter, brand engagement can be measured by tracking shares, likes, favorites and retweets.
Metrics may need to be even more tightly integrated with native advertising than with traditional advertising and content marketing functions. This is because the ability to compare a native ad’s performance to other ads and the content associated with the ad may become the new Holy Grail for marketers who are looking for a detailed picture of each piece of content’s ROI.
Preparing content for native ads: Websites’ standards for image sizes, number of characters and other factors often differ for content and advertising. In order for marketers to navigate between the two, MarTech providers may have to offer additional functionality so users can enjoy the seamless experience promised by native advertising.
The more marketers look to realize the ROI of native advertising, the more they’ll understand their pitfalls. By offering them a platform that makes their content easier to manage, you’ll have a jump start on your competition.