Everyone is suddenly jumping into the Native advertising bandwagon. And that’s the only right direction. Banners are dead, they just don’t know it yet: no one pays attention anymore, click throughs are ridiculous, fraud rate are crazy high, users (and advertisers) are just ignoring them.
So what’s the solution on mobile? Integrating ads in the content and the experience. Google started years ago, before mobile came up. Facebook came up next, although their latest ad network, FAN is kind of native-ish since most of it are just, banners….Twitter has joined, Yahoo, AOL, Pinterest…the train is packed.
But is that necessarily a recipe for success? Well, it depends how you look at it and how you implement it.
We believe the first currency of native advertising is user trust, not CTR or eCPM. If you decide to go all the way and really blend ads in the content or the user experience you have to make sure your users understand perfectly, without thinking twice what you’re doing.
Let’s look at some examples of the new practices launched by the big guys..
Here another example of how Yahoo implement and disclose native ads on mobile. Take a good guess!
This is Pinterest native format, launched also today
This is AOL/HuffPo native format announced a few weeks ago
This is another one spotted on a popular mobile website called Distractify
What’s wrong with all of those?
It is really hard to understand an ad is an ad. You’re presented the ad, as content – first. If your eye stops at the content, or browse fast (as often on mobile) there is no way to understand this is an ad. The disclosure is so small and placed so low that it takes your eye/brain an extra step to understand what you just saw. It’s as if you were watching a TV show, with an ad undisclosed and only at the end you’d get “Oh, by the way, that was an ad”
This is just wrong. No wonder some think journalism has surrendered to “evil ads” [note that the journalist here wrong mistakes native ads to paid editorial content which is very limitative]
An ad, has to be fully and obviously disclosed. Native ads is just a new ways for publishers to dialog with their users, even more than traditional ads. So they have a responsibility about what’s said and how it is said.
The practice of blending ads in the content should not discount the necessity of obvious disclosure. Fail in doing this well and users will soon stop trusting your service or your ads because you tried to deceive them. Not everyone will realize it but enough that a few vocal users start to complain and brands will also start to panic. And if you have any doubt this will happen, take a look at this. Or at this great video documentary [min 8”]. Or here
Is there a solution to that? yes, an easy one (one we apply in every single of our format). Disclose the ad from the very beginning in a obvious visual signal/text. Don’t make users guess, Don’t wait the “end” of the message to disclose it. Don’t call ads “App you’ll love” or “Great content for you”. Just call it “Ad” or “Promotion” or “Sponsored”. There is no lack of right words
This is for example how we would have implemented native ads on Pinterest.
Big platforms have the to lead the way. Common sense is mostly what’s needed here. So if we all have to reinvent what’s next for mobile ads, let’s avoid the pitfalls of deception because we’ll all loose. Trust is what we need to build. Trust with advertisers and trust with users.