It’s been another hugely busy year in the mobile native advertising space. With revenues for platform holders up, spend increasing across most sectors and with native platforms like Facebook benefitting hugely from it, 2015 has seen its fair share of headlines.
But which stories dominated the mobile advertising sector? And what effect did they have on native advertising? Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important stories of the year and how they impacted mobile native advertisers.
Mediapalooza was a serious threat to media agencies in 2015. Following the reveal that agencies had been receiving backhanders from platforms to assign ad spends to their service (irrespective of its effectiveness to client), many of the world’s biggest brands initiated immediate reviews of their agencies performance.
The likes of L’Oreal, Volkswagen and Unilever put their accounts back out for pitch, putting marketing budgets worth $8.3bn back on the market and beginning a pitching frenzy throughout summer and beyond.
Though this didn’t have a direct connection to native advertising, Mediapalooza did make companies think a lot harder about where and what their money was being spent on. Channels like TV took a reputational hit, but self-service performance platforms that offer clear targeting options and control for the marketer were boosted as a result.
So although Mediapalooza wouldn’t have directly led to an increase in native advertising, the murky practices it exposed stood in direct contrast to the clarity of approach that native advertising services and platforms pride themselves on.
As a result, we’d expect to see more media agencies put their money behind native on mobile to ensure they properly represent their clients.
2. Instagram Advertising Arrives
September 2015 saw the arrival of Instagram advertising and, even within a quarter of its release, it is proving that it is a native platform par excellence.
Leveraging Facebook’s UA dashboard and offering marketers a variety of creative photography and video options to use, Instagram is already predicted to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues for Facebook in its first year alone.
For advertisers working on mobile, it provides further evidence of just how good native ads can be within mobile apps. The quality of the targeting, the excellent formats available and the simplicity of campaign set up makes offering an excellent looking native campaign on mobile easier than it has ever been before.
Though it is early days, Instagram’s advertising options look to be a winner and will likely play a big role in the native mobile advertising space soon.
3. Mobile Web Browser Advertising Blocking Arrives
Apple sent shockwaves through the advertising industry when it announced that it was allowing ad blockers onto its devices from iOS 9 onwards.
By blocking adverts that popped up in Safari, developers offering an ad blocking service were able to show that stopping users from loading adverts helped them save money on data and extend their battery lives.
But for marketers, it briefly presented an apocalyptic scenario. If users took to advertising blocking on a grand scale, it could have threatened the mobile advertising industry. And if Apple was acting as a patron to these services, it could have meant a long protracted battle between advertisers and the richest companies in the world.
Shortly after blockers launched though, it became clear that it really wasn’t that big a deal. Though it blocked ads in mobile browsers, native ads in mobile apps were unaffected. As a result, it probably just hastened the shift of ad budgets away from the web to mobile.
Blocking, of course, remains an issue nevertheless. In particular, advertisers and marketers need to ask much more carefully why users block ads and whether there is something to be done about it.
But the arrival of ad blockers hasn’t ended the mobile advertising world and it probably won’t in 2016 either.
4. Mobile Game Advertising Excels during Superbowl
February 2015 was the month when mobile gaming companies really gate crashed the TV space, with the arrival of Supercell and Machine Zone in the public consciousness accelerated by adverts during the Superbowl.
Paying millions of dollars for a chance to advertise for a little under a minute, Supercell in particular benefitted from the slot as their campaign featuring Liam Neeson became the most watched advert from the slot.
And these adverts had an important effect on mobile advertisers considering native. First, it provided a bit of counter balance to the bad news stories around TV that Mediapalooza would generate, as Supercell saw Clash of Clans climb the free charts in the US as a result of the slot.
Second, and most importantly, it established in advertisers minds the importance of thinking natively for each platform. Though Supercell has been known for its acquisition nous within the performance mobile space, the campaign featuring Liam Neeson adapted perfectly both to the context of TV and to the star they hired to front it.
Though it wasn’t a mobile advert, the foundation for Supercell’s success was thinking natively. And that thoughtfulness about format, context and audience helped power them to tens of millions of additional views well after the game was over.
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