UPDATE: The second half of our “Native Advertising on Lock Screens” series has been published! Check out Part 2 to learn about challenges in native advertising and what our solutions are for advertisers, users, and publishers.
If you were to ask me what the most powerful mobile advertising trends are in 2014, I would say “programmatic” and “native.” Programmatic advertising has evolved from being simply a buzzword to becoming a real game changer over the last few years, thanks to its firm foundation from the era of desktop advertising. However, the concept of native advertising is still quite new and vague for many people.
In this first post of our native advertising series, I’ll be discussing the definition of native advertising and the potential of using the first screen of smartphones (a.k.a. the lock screen) as a type of native advertising.
Native advertising, as defined by Wikipedia, is…
“… an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience.
Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.”
Native ad formats should match both the form and the function of the user experience, and there is little opposition to this aspect of the definition. However, I would argue that this definition is limited, because native ads are not only about online advertising.
Below are two examples that fit well with the definition. These advertorials are presented in the same form as other articles and they have the same function of providing content for readers. These are examples of print native advertising in newspapers and magazines. In fact, they are precisely the forerunners of the modern version of advertorial native ads seen in the New York Times.
So even if native advertising has only recently become a buzzword, it is not an entirely new concept. Its origins trace back to the print era when advertorials were often placed between news articles. There are also customized ads in magazines, which are much more difficult to differentiate from original content. Putting aside for now the debate of whether this type of advertising is good or bad, based on the definition, native advertising has clearly existed since the print era. It’s just now getting more of the spotlight.
Although the rate of smartphone adoption has been rapidly rising and a quarter of total Internet traffic now comes from mobile, mobile advertising still can’t seem to get the attention it deserves due to its inherent limitation. What I mean by inherent limitation is the smaller screen size of mobile devices, which prevents traditional banner ads from having spacious placement on mobile like they have on desktop PCs. The banner ad, which takes up a fixed area of the already tiny screens, is not the answer to mobile advertising, even if it was the first and, until recently, the only way of buying ad inventory on mobile.
Scarcity as a foundation of innovation has led people to reinvent mobile advertising. For example, Facebook, after its IPO in 2012, had trouble with mobile user monetization. A great majority of users were already on mobile, but for Facebook, a scrappy banner ad was not an option. They finally came up with an innovative in-feed advertising product and successfully became one of the biggest mobile advertising firms. Users were receptive of Facebook’s advertising effort and CTR proved to be 10 times higher than traditional banner ads. In Q4 of 2013, mobile accounted for 53% of Facebook’s total ad revenue! Inspired by this eye-catching outcome, Yahoo!, Twitter, LINE, Pinterest and many other mobile giants also followed to capture this rapidly growing market.
In this first post, I’ve covered some general topics on mobile native advertising. In the next post of this series, I’ll discuss some of the challenges of mobile native advertising and take a closer look at lock screen inventory. Stay tuned!
The FOCUS series on our blog features specific projects and insights that we believe can change the rules of the game in the mobile industry. To learn more about Buzzvil’s core values, take a look on our website.