Here Are Your Native Advertising Options Mapped Out

Native advertising corresponds to many types of advertising, from paid search and social ads to the sponsored editorial offerings from media companies. Put simply, it’s confusing as hell to understand.

Success at native means both the user of a media site or app and the advertiser explicitly get value out of the experience. To understand if a particular kind of native advertising is going to be successful, marketers should assess four criteria: Format, reach, context, and identification.

The seven core types of native advertising** all function to varying degrees against these criteria.

For example, the paid search ad is a proven format that generates a reasonably predictable response rate; an in-feed ‘click to play’ cinematograph will be less predictable, and probably less reliable. Pinterest’s promoted pins provide considerable reach for some populations; a native ad appearing programmatically in apps and targeted for a specific behavior may have far lower reach. Likewise, there’s wide variety for context and identification.

To help marketers make smart decisions, we broke down all seven native advertising types against these four criteria, and explored compelling examples of each. For Forrester clients, have a look at the analysis – our Vendor Landscape: Native Advertising Technologies, Q3 2016. Not a client? This’ll have to do as a teaser. 

*** those seven types: paid search, paid social, in-feed exchanges, native ad vendors, publisher networks, publisher-specific custom native, and influencer activation.

Just Don't Call It Native Advertising

In the context of writing a report on the native advertising technology landscape, I was looking at many publishers' native advertising products when it occurred to me:

Nobody uses the same damn name for native ads, no one calls it 'advertising', and almost no one calls it 'native'.

Here's a word cloud of all the names used for native advertising products by 20 leading publishing houses (full list of the publishers below).

Not a single name for this product was repeated publisher to publisher.

Let me repeat that:

Not a single name for this product was repeated publisher to publisher.

Now, I get branding. Ford's not going to name their new car Chevy. But this isn't branding. Chevy and Ford can both agree that the Mustang and the Camaro are, in fact, cars. Ford doesn't call its cars Frisbees, and Chevy doesn't call them PersonTransporters, and think they're competing in wildly different markets.

Further, here's the hall of native ad product naming fame (or shame, if you will):

Top Prize For Most Orwellian-Named Native Ad Product: Mashable's 'BrandSpeak'
(apparently, this is a dialect invented on Madison Avenue, spoken only by a gaggle of editorial primates and consists entirely of CamelCase AdjectiveNames)

Top Prize For Advertising Not-Advertising But-Still-Advertising: Vox's 'Vox Creative'
It sits under the 'Advertising' category of the site, next to another offering called...'Advertising'. I don't even.

Top Prize For 'Let's Admit It, This Could Be Just About Any Old Thing': Economist's 'Content'

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United States of #Engagement’s Declaration of #Engagement

Just go with this for a moment:
 
We hold these #engagements to be self-evident, that all #engagements are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are #engagement, #engagement and #moreengagement.--That to secure these rights, #engagements are instituted among Men, deriving their just #engagements from the consent of the #engaged, --That whenever any Form of #engagement becomes destructive of these #engagements, it is the Right of the [brands/advertisers/publishers/viral video creators/social agencies/engagement metrics vendors] to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new #engagement, laying its foundation on such #engagement and organizing its #engagement in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their #engagement. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that #engagements long established should not be changed for light and transient #engagements; and accordingly all #engagement hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to #share, while #engagements are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the #engagements to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of #engagements, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute #engagement, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such #engagement, and to provide new Guards for their future #engagement.
 
Signed,
The #Engaged
 
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6 Reasons BuzzFeed's Revenue Miss Is OMG!

BuzzFeed's supposed to be the media company that holds the answer to the media business's future in a post-banner world. While the media world is dying, BuzzFeed's been hiring, growing to new markets, winning new investment on high valuations and projecting hockey stick sales growth.

But worrying signals that BuzzFeed was struggling were confirmed in an article by Financial Times, which cited a miss on 2015's revenue target and a halving of 2016's target. To this, BuzzFeed's chairman said "There's nothing cratering in the industry. It's better than ever." Meanwhile, he offered no evidence to the contrary, reminding this analyst of:

 Counter to Lerer's assurances and in line with FT's findings, there are some pretty good reasons BuzzFeed may be missing its numbers. I'll present them in true BuzzFeed listicle style (all gifs credited to giphy.com). Here goes:

1) BuzzFeed's tried to position itself and its expected revenue as a software play, but it's just....not.

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Facebook To Collect Brand-Sponsored Content Data

An announcement late last week by the Facebook media team may have been overlooked by many marketers, but it has intriguing ramifications.

Facebook announced that it would effectively allow any organization with a verified page to publish brand-sponsored content without asking Facebook for explicit permission first, provided that content was tagged to the brand. They said:

Today we're updating our branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook. Along with changes to our branded content policy and ads policy, we're offering a new tool that makes it easy for publishers and influencers to tag a marketer when they publish branded content. Publishers and influencers must use this tag for all branded content shared on Facebook.

What does it mean?

  1. Facebook's going to have lots and lots of data on which publishers work with which brands and how that content performs across Facebook. This 'new tool' is at the very least a passive instrument (clocking events), with the opportunity to turn it into an active program (reporting and optimizing events). MarketingLand moots the idea that Facebook may in future ask for a cut of that relationship, which seems unlikely; why would Facebook double tax in a way that potentially supressed creation and thus, as a knock-on effect, suppressed the content's distribution, which is where Facebook is playing? Rather, Facebook would want to use the data to encourage more partnerships.
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Half of top-performing marketers use UGC extensively

Last week Salesforce published its 'State of Marketing' survey results, which included some interesting findings for data-driven marketers.

First of all, the over-ambitious title* and the survey's methodology tell you to take the findings with a grain of salt. 43% of the survey's 4,000 respondents were either CEO or owner, which correlates well with the apparently 39% of respondents from companies of 1-100 employees.

To highlight best practice, the survey designers created a sub-set of respondents (18%) classified as 'high-performing teams' because they responded that they were extremely satisfied with the outcomes from their marketing investment.

Which leads to the first compelling data point (reflected in this post's title):

"47% of high-performing marketers extensively use UGC (vs. 19% of moderate performers and 8% of underperformers)"

Essentially, 'happy' marketers are 6x more likely to use UGC than their 'unhappy' counterparts. I believe that this story is much greater than 'SMB marketers use UGC because it's free'; this is a case of effective marketers expanding their brand governance to include input, interpretation and involvement from communities outside the immediate control of the brand (to tell the brand's story). A lesson here: If you can't get third-parties interested in what your brand's all about, your brand's relevance is likely dwindling.

The second intriguing datapoint relates to email tactics:

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GoPro: What Happened To The Content Marketing Child Prodigy?

GoPro’s like the preternaturally gifted kid at Content Marketing High. Its community of content creators churn out viral video clips like butter, and its online audiences are second only to Red Bull’s. The product’s actually a viral video machine, giving it this absurd business, marketing and content strategy alignment:

But all is not well with the valedictorian of Content Marketing High. Its market value has been decimated in the last half year, as its stock crumbled to less than 25% of its former self.

Given that this brand is such a content marketing wunderkind, anyone interested in content marketing has to ask himself: Is this a demonstration of content marketing’s impotence? I’ve asked another content marketing influencer, who wouldn’t really answer the question.*

My colleague, Ted Schadler, has the consumer electronics savoir-faire to diagnose GoPro’s real problem: The product has not become a mass market product; it’s been embraced almost exclusively by extreme sports stars and wanna-be’s.**

Powerful consumer electronics brands cannot
grow on snowboarders and skydivers alone.

GoPro’s success documenting inhuman feats by death-defying daredevils has come at the expense of documenting the content that real people might want to create from a first-person camera.

The brand is adjusting to the market headwinds by investing in its software, making it easier for anyone to upload and edit video footage. Democratizing its storytelling to appeal to everyman should get as much focus.

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12 Quick Observations On The Content Marketing Vendors In That Supergraphic

Two days ago, Scott Brinker published his annual marketing technology supergraphic. It's now grown to some 3,800 vendors.*

There are, by my count, 159 vendors categorized in the content marketing part of his uberstack.

Some quick analysis of this collection:

  • First of all, a blob of logos is hard to relate to (but it looks intriguing, so I know why Scott does it). To see the 'content marketing' vendors in a more usable way, I made a list in this spreadsheet (three relevant colums: all 159 vendors, the 89 new ones he added this year, and the 21 that departed, for varying reasons).
  • Only a small handful of these vendors would ever be considered as an enterprise content marketing platform. Nine of these vendors made that cut last year.
  • The longer and harder you look at any space, the more vendors you will find. Vendors that were new this year, but which have been around for several years, include DivvyHQ, Inpowered, Livefyre, Oracle Content Marketing, Nativo, Outbrain, Pressly, Sprinklr, Taboola, TechValidate, TrackMaven, and Uberflip. It's possible many other of the 89 'new' entrants are not new, but I don't know them as well.
  • Only three of the 21 departed from the space are 'presumed dead'. The remainder were recategorized, pivoted or acquired (Storify by Livefyre, and Docalytics by Contently). Some pivots are likely equivalent to 'presumed dead' (in the content marketing space).
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Don’t bet on your video subscribers

Here’s an interesting discrepancy: Marketers and agencies fuss over how many people subscribe to a brand’s YouTube channel. Yet, the ease of subscribing suggests little commitment, and YouTube buries notifications of new videos from subscribed channels.*

Thus, in the context of a report I’m writing, I hypothesized that YouTube subscribers were worthless; brands that had collected thousands of subscribers had only a number. Nothing more.

And I tested the hypothesis.

  1. Take 60 brands with at least 1K YouTube channel subscribers (the average was 350K).
  2. Count views for a dozen videos, each between two weeks and 12 months old.
  3. Establish an average view count, and divide by the subscriber total.
  4. Graph it.
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The Age of the Customer Hits The Media World

Do you hear something?

Is someone banging on the door?

Yes, I think someone’s banging on the door. Pretty hard actually.

In fact, it’s deafening.

The knocking is empowered digital media buyers. The slowness to answer is the media ecosystem of publishers, media agencies, and broadcasters.

I shared the video below a week ago on LinkedIn and people clearly like it. It’s the parable I just stated, but acted out. Listen to Gabe Leydon of Machine Zone (big digital media buyer) slam the media ecosystem. It’s painful. Cathartic. Iconoclastic. Focus on two segments: 11:00 -> 11:45 and 12:55 -> 13:55.

This is the advertising ecosystem’s reckoning with the age of the customer. The customers want to cut through all of the layers of BS that advertising has traditionally wrapped itself up in.

I had a few takeaways given Leydon’s analysis:

  • Media businesses are trying to be technology platforms, but are mostly houses on fire.
  • Analytics agencies are the new media agencies.
  • Media agencies are just houses on fire.

If you’re a marketer, pull your media-buying capabilities close to your chest. Invest in better analytics. And do everything in your power to get a measurable, direct-to-consumer sales channel on its feet, if only to provide insights to the marketing that feeds your indirect channels.