If you’re still wondering why all the fuss over native advertising, consider this; Harpers Bazaar’s recent native advertising testing garnered them a tenfold increase in CTR.
That’s not to say that native ads still don’t have their detractors, or their problems. Regulatory authorities in the United States recently reprimanded Shape magazine for using native ads to promote their own products, and Outbrain got a negative ruling from the ASA for a relatively recent campaign as well.
Considering that Outbrain is third behind Google and Facebook as far as driving worldwide web traffic, the ruling (covered in depth by The Guardian) caused some major rumbling industrywide.
Outbrain quickly changed its ways, released a new set of content guidelines and has since been “leading from the front”. That includes clamping down on misleading or sensationalistic headlines and sales language as well as toning down their aggressive marketing. They also called fellow industry participants to task on following these guidelines.
The question is, are they ready to do that?
The simple fact is that native advertising falls into basically two categories. The first are networks like Outbrain that are extremely selective in their native content, and the second are those that… don’t.
It’s more of a financial call than anything else, as offering sensationalistic content allows networks to offer their advertising at a much lower cost per click due to higher volume. High-quality content providers like Outbrain however have no choice but to ask for significantly more because of the higher cost to create quality content.
This begs the question of whether or not “lower end” native advertising markets will heed the call for higher standards. Frankly, they don’t have a lot of incentive to do so as up to now there’s not been a whole lot of regulatory oversight put in place.
Native advertising experts believe that the only way this situation will change is if brands, and advertisers, hold themselves to a higher standard and publish only high quality native advertising content.
That’s always a tough call when the upfront cost is lower, even if the conversion rate might be significantly higher.
It’s also silly to expect anyone to change their ways when the only risk they face is a slap on the wrist, and sometimes not even that.
It’s a conundrum, to be sure. As native advertising matures however, and brands as well as advertisers begin to see that the CTR and conversion rates are significantly better with higher-quality content, industry analysts believe that native advertising will slowly but surely rise up to the higher end.