A Review of the Risks of Native Advertising for Publishers

There is a common trend these days to “Go Native”.

Simply saying, advertise in a manner that will disguise the ad content with the site’s look and feel. The process of adopting the site’s environment, and presenting an ad that will look as if it is part of the content itself.

The less intrusive idea has presented itself with many publishers and has picked up (and upgraded itself) in the past few years.

Let’s Talk Numbers 

Statistics show that Native ads are indeed performing as expected; People view native ads 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads.

Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82 percent. Purchase intent is 53 percent higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads.

Native ads that contain rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60 percent, and to top it all, the native advertising industry will reach $4.6 billion in revenue by the end of 2017. This indeed proves itself with high advantages, but it has its flaws, and it must be considered when looking to use it.

This great ad format includes both advantages and disadvantages, which we discuss later!

The Advantages

To start with an obvious advantage that is usually avoided when reviewing the option of Native ads – It is Less Expensive. There is no effort in creativity; the ad does not have to meet any creative factors, but the look and feel of the site’s content (which is in most cases a header to an article, with or without an image).

The advertisements are significantly cheaper than traditional advertising; and since native advertising is more targeted, their costs are much more efficient. From the advertiser’s side, there is much less effort in developing a range of creative ads, while the publisher can apply the ad in a manner that will not use any ad inventory. This allows for a fast campaign and efficient setup from both end!

Native Ads Seem Less Intrusive 

This allows for a better flow with the media’s context and content. It merges in a manner that does not enhance the fact that these are ads, and users usually look at them as legit content.

As a result, native advertising enhances, instead of detracts, creating a better user experience.

One of the main issues is Better Customer Targeting. Since the data on the page is contextual, which may apply to a specific subject of interest, Native ads allow a better targeting than traditional advertising. The full understanding of what the user is reviewing, and applying the correct targeting to that content, significantly raises the CTR on the Native ad.

Since ads are something that consumers don’t like, they are becoming more “ad blind” –they are no longer notice the traditional forms of advertising.

Ads like banners, commercials, and billboards are seen by some as ads of the past.

Native ads,  better focus consumers’ attention, and as such – these ads have a Higher Perception – conscious awareness and subconscious brand re-enforcement.

Native ads can Increase Followers. These ads increase the number of consumers which are brand followers, increase brand lift, and pass the information in a positive manner, which ultimately means more revenue for the publishers as well.

An interesting point to add is that most ad blockers don’t work on native ads. Just like the user can’t easily differentiate between the content and the ads, so too for the ad blocker. This is a major plus for publishers who are losing out much of their revenue to ad blockers.

The Disadvantages

Even though most native ads are generated from a loyal agency, there is always the risk that publishers are taking in the matter of Security, i.e. malvertising on their website!

The native ads are normally a script that is generated to provide the most accurate data to the user, and as such targeting the appropriate content. The ‘related’ data is held in the native third-party publishing platform’s ad servers, which is not within the publisher’s control. Third-party scripts and codes can be inserted by cyber-criminals.

At Geoedge, we have noticed a growing trend of malicious activity with native ads. That is why the publisher and the native publishing platform need to work with an ad security solution like GeoEdge – to protect them from any malvertising that may be injected into the served ads.

What Is This Trickery?

Some of these ads can be seen as deceptive by some customers.

Some consumers are confused or deceived by assuming that Native ads are regular news reports or articles. When a consumer understands that he was “tricked” to click  the ad, he may have an unfavorable opinion of the brand.

Some may see the ads as deceptive (as explained above), but others may see Native ads as unethical. This is an extreme thought upon Native ads, but indeed something which cannot be overlooked when considering this ad type.

Even though most of the Native ads state the disclaimer “Sponsored Ad”, some consumers may have a Negative Attention to it. This may be accounted for as a disadvantage both to the publisher and the advertiser.

Even though it does not occur often, there are statistics showing backlash; Publishers may lose readers (if it is a content of blog site) and consumers (if this is an e-commerce site).

The last disadvantage is not a firm fact, but some believe that some of the bigger search engines (such as Google) may consider sites that hold Native ads as spam. Due to that, publishers are taking the risk of a lower rank to their Search Engine Optimization.

Looking Towards the Future 

It’s a well-known fact that people aren’t over-the-moon when it comes to ads. But research shows that customers prefer, and interact longer with native ads than they do with display ads.

The more relevant the content is for the user, the happier the user is. The ad tech industry is looking to perfect a more targeted, more robust, more intelligent solution for users.

I believe that in the near future we will see more targeted, more precise ads –specific to each user, and as long as publishers and native advertising platforms takes steps to protect the ads from malware and malicious activity, the positives will far outweigh the negatives.

Tobias is an experienced marketing leader and Chief Business Officer at GeoEdge. He believes success in business is fueuled by a passion for the product and purposeful messaging. Connect with Tobias on Linkedin to discuss strategic business development.

Malvertising, the practice of sprinkling malicious code into legitimate-looking ads is growing more sophisticated. GeoEdge’s holistic ad quality solution has you covered.


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