If you’ve ever tapped on an ad on your mobile device, it was probably by mistake. Mobile devices have a great deal of potential when it comes to marketing, but probably not through traditional banner style advertising. With mobile devices so full of apps, tiny banner ads are simply too easy to ignore. So if banner ads generally don’t work well on mobile devices and oftentimes just serve to aggravate a potential customer, how can advertisers better reach these mobile users? The answer is in native ads.
Advertising has evolved through the years with the same goal, reaching a specific audience. We’ve gone from mass marketing of newspaper ads to advertising on radio stations formatted to a specific demographic. Online advertising in the midst of reaching a new level of target marketing with native advertising.
Even if you are not sure what native advertising is, you have likely been exposed to it. Part of its effectiveness is in how it works. Native ads take the form of the platform you are using. If you are viewing a news website, for instance, a native ad may appear in the form of an article. In social media, it would appear in your news feed or as a display ad. It would have the “feel” of the other content on the site, but it would provide information that algorithmic scoring determines would be of interest to the reader.
An example would be a reader who has recently been viewing or researching used cars may be presented with an article on how to get the best deal on a pre-owned vehicle. The content is sponsored by the advertiser in the hopes the reader will find the information of interest. It positions the advertiser as an expert and offers that consumer a product or service related to their online travels. With mobile native ads, marketers can zero-in even closer with ads more geographically targeted.
Why Banner Ads are Dying on Mobile Devices
As mentioned, banner ads appear very tiny on mobile devices and have poor click-thru rates. The CTRs achieved are inflated by accidental taps. Banner ads struggle on mobile, in part due to their limited content, but it is also because mobile users navigate quicker than desktop users. They just don’t have time to pause for a random ad that may have nothing to do with what they are currently in search of. We’ve all learned to ignore banner ads, automatically purging them from our attention. Banner ads have existed this long on mobile devices because there hasn’t been a significantly better alternative. That is until the rise of native ads. Native ads just may be the final nail in the coffin of banner ads on mobile devices.
The Rise of Native Ads
Native ads have been around for a few years, but as far as generating income, they are now hitting their stride. According to Business Insider, native ads generated less than $5 billion in revenues in 2013. In 2014 revenue jumped to almost $8 billion. Revenues are expected to reach almost $11 billion in 2015. And experts sat the number will nearly double by 2018, to over $21 billion. That means that native advertising will comprise more than half of the $38 billion in total mobile ad revenues anticipated in 2018.
Moby has a terrific article with a range of examples of how native mobile ads are being used, particularly with apps. It demonstrates how companies like Twitter are using native mobile ads and shows how companies like NativeX are creating networks to post native mobile ads on games. NativeX can even create advertiser-focused “mini-games” within a game. Native ads are everywhere now, as their effectiveness with mobile devices becomes more and more apparent.
Effectiveness of Native Ads on Mobile Devices
According to Adobe’s CMO.com, mobile native ads are proving more effective than their banner peers. (Especially if ad revenues are an indication.) So effective in fact, that Yahoo is replacing all of its banner ads with native ads. Facebook is reaping billions of dollars in native ad revenue. Twitter and AOL have joined in the rush.
While data on effectiveness for advertisers in mobile marketing can be difficult to come by, it is clear these online giants are committed to it. That is something we should all think about.