Two months into 2015, there is hardly any denying it: native advertising is poised to become one of the main mobile trends of the year. At PubNative, our conceptual vision is that native ads are much more than a trend: they are simply the future of mobile advertising. However, as with many things that get popular quickly, they are also greatly misunderstood. Today there is still a lot of confusion around the term, in large part due to the fact that the concept of native was first established online.
Here are PubNative’s top 6 things publishers should keep in mind when getting to grips mobile native advertising.
1. Function Comes Before Form
The golden rule of native advertising is that it should not disrupt the user experience. Everything beyond that rule is detail. Said differently, native ads should always match the function of their publishing estate, whether it’s an app or a mobile website. Consequently, the ads need to take a form that fits that function. For instance, if the app’s function is to offer a feed of stories or status updates, the ad should take the form of a post in order to integrate seamlessly into the feed. Interacting with the sponsored post then has to offer an experience similar to a normal post. The function dictates the form.
2. It’s Not About the Format (per se)
The most common misconception about native advertising, especially on mobile, is that it is a new kind of ad format, just as the banner, the interstitial or the pre-roll video format. The truth is that, although native ads take the form of specific formats (paid search, in-feed ads, etc.), they are not a format as such. They are rather an advertising framework that can be applied to any app or mobile website, provided that the ad fits its function and preserves its user experience.
3. Users Come First. Always.
Once again, the golden rule of mobile native advertising: it should at no cost disrupt the user experience. Beyond making sure not to hinder the latter, native can even foster user engagement and enhance the whole app experience. For a successful mobile monetization strategy, make sure your native ad integration passes this test. Only offering a compelling and consistent experience to your users will set you on the path to efficient and profitable monetization.
4. Native Advertising is Not Sponsored Content
Just like Don Draper, native advertising is haunted by its past. In the general opinion, native ads are still very strongly associated to online search ads or sponsored content. In particular, the latter has a bad reputation, as it is often accused of being deceptive and blurring the lines between journalistic editorial content and advertising. True, much of native advertising online is sponsored content. However, this does not hold on mobile, as native ads are not competing with original content but merely opening up a new revenue stream for publishers. On top of this, accusations of deceptiveness can be easily thwarted by adding clear signs of disclosure.
5. True, Scale Is an Issue. But There’s a Cure.
No need to hide from the trough: the more customized native ads are, the more difficult it becomes to achieve real scale and trade them programmatically. Despite the rise of the OpenRTB 2.3 with the native extension, a large majority of programmatic demand does still not support native formats. However, using a native adaptor (such as the one PubNative offers), this hurdle can be overcome. The native adaptor will allow you to use standard ad components to build genuine native ad placements and offer them to be traded programmatically.
6. Let It Be Said: eCPM Is Not the Best Metric for Native Monetization
We’ve already written more in length about this specific topic, but it is important to understand that eCPM, although widely used as an industry metric, is not the best KPI to measure the efficiency of a native ad. There are mainly three reasons for this. First, the way eCPM is computed makes it directly dependent on the way the impression is measured. In the case of a banner, there is an IAB standard, but for a native ad, there are countless ways to define an impression. Then, networks can easily tweak eCPMs by capping fill rates, rendering the metric unreliable (at best). Finally, as a result of the earlier point, eCPM makes you lose focus on maximizing revenue as capping fill rates limits impressions, and therefore revenue potential.
Instead, a better way to assess your monetization efforts across all ad placements and apps is to use the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
Hopefully these pointers will have given you a head start in your mobile monetization strategy. What would you add? Let us know in the comments!