“Publishers are well aware that if native advertising is to be a long-term solution, they must deliver tangible business results to the brands.”

Jesper Laursen and Martha Stone, co-authors of the Native Advertising Trends report, came to this conclusion in the 2016 edition of the report. They also stressed:

  • The native advertising industry is developing fast.
  • Advertisers “jumped in deep.”
  • Publishers are diving in too.   

The 2018 edition came out in December. Let’s unravel some of its highlights and see where we are now based on data collected from 148 news media executives from 53 countries.

The Marketer's Guide to the Major Players in Native Advertising

Native advertising as a percent of revenues.

The report from 2016 predicted in three years, the percentage of native advertising compared to overall advertising revenues is expected to grow by 127%.

  • At that time, the survey’s respondents said 11% of their companies’ revenues were from native advertising.
  • It’s not three years later; it’s two. The 2018 report shows 20% of revenues come from native advertising. So the actual growth, by this measure, is 82% thus far. The 127% prediction may come true.

The 2018 report made another prediction looking forward three years: the percentage of revenues will grow to 36% in 2021.

Now, let’s set the predictions and actual survey results aside and talk big picture. Native is experiencing solid and steady growth. Demand’s climbing. Publishers are trying to respond.

53% offer native advertising services now. Most that don’t are now planning operations to seize the opportunities native advertising presents. It’s an important priority.

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What’s happening in native advertising services?

The 2016 report’s data showed one-third of publishers have already established a native ad studio.

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The percentage of publishers offering native advertising studios jumped to 42% in 2018. As you see above, 29% have a separate native advertising team.

Let’s see what products and services publishers are offering agencies and brands…

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Interesting… In-house studios are digging in and delivering an array of media services. More than 50% provide customers written content, video, multimedia storytelling and infographics. 47% offer strategy services.

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The content being created by in-house media studios serves various stages of the buyer’s journey, though top-of-the funnel content holds the lead.

How publishers sell native advertising.

Less than one-quarter of the publishers in the survey had a team dedicated strictly to native advertising sales, however…

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Native advertising is usually sold in combination with traditional advertising…

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… And it’s priced HIGHER.

Is native advertising working?

As you’ve gathered, if you ask the publishers that sell—and in most cases create—native advertising, they’ll tell you yes, native’s working out great for publishers.

They’ll also tell you…

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Native advertising is working for advertisers.

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And readers enjoy it.

What’s getting measured?

Metrics, KPIs, reporting… Now here’s a topic that’s bandied about often, evolving regularly, and a bit tricky to unravel. That said, the report did a good job of gathering insights regarding native advertising KPIs used by publishers.

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Audience engagement ranked first, though it seems like a bit of catch-all to me. Traffic, which is not only important but also plain and simple to understand, is measured by 71% of the publishers surveyed.  

Challenges remain.

As they did in the first two annual reports, the authors of the 2018 report return the narrative to a perpetual problem: labeling native ads.

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The report says 9% put no label on native advertising. They say the number is slightly more encouraging from years past, but the industry shouldn’t settle for anything other than 100% of native ads being accurately and obviously labeled.

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Let’s close by zooming in on the top five challenges publishers face in the booming native advertising arena:

  • Training the sales team
  • Convincing advertisers to tell real stories
  • Explaining native advertising to advertisers
  • Producing engaging native advertising content
  • Proving the effectiveness of native advertising

I think tips for addressing these challenges would make a great sequel to this post, don’t you? Stay tuned.

NOTE: Special thanks to the Native Advertising Institute and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Get a free copy of their full report here.

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