Brand direct media buyers opt for native ad formats to woo mobile audiences

Advertisers are increasingly relying on native video ad formats to reach audiences on mobile devices, with a particular emphasis on in-app formats, according to research published today (18 February).

The study, conducted by ExchangeWire Research and commissioned by the Rubicon Project, also demonstrates that “brand direct buyers” indicate a preference for purchasing such inventory via private market places (PMP), given their focus on purchasing “brand safe” inventory.

The study was conducted over the past three months, with over 300 media buyers from both brands and agencies located across the globe participating.

Among the findings, ExchangeWire found that brand direct media buyers purchase more native ads than any other mobile ad format, and 100 per cent of such buyers in North America, APAC and LATAM plan to increase spend on mobile video this year. In EMEA this figure is 90 per cent.

Meanwhile, responses from media agency buyers suggest they lag behind their brand counterparts with only 42 per cent favouring native advertising formats – although this is a 32 per cent increase year-over-year.

Speaking with The Drum, Rebecca Muir, head of research and analysis at ExchangeWire, also said the study demonstrated that over 80 per cent of brand direct buyers included location targeting in the mobile media purchases in the next year.

This was likely motivated by the fact that brand direct buyers are under enhanced scrutiny from their employers, and that location targeted media purchases can more easily be linked to an in-store purchase, compared to those that are not.

“Location gives you an extra data-point, and that can be more effective,” said Muir.

Commenting on the findings Nick Graham, global director for digital marketing at Huawei Technologies, said the findings demonstrated the enhanced efficacy of native ad formats.

He added: “Native ad formats certainly deserve more credit, for ages there’s been a lot of industry attention on programmatic generally, but this has often been at the expense of specific questions like effectiveness – especially when it comes to standard formats like banners. This research validates what a lot of marketers suspect.”

He further added that brand direct buyers’ preference for location-targeted media buys was an extension of their habits when booking search campaigns.

“Location-targeting has long since been a feature of Paid Search, and it feels like its adoption is now being exploited by more suppliers. Again, it’s a case of catch up for all the right reasons, like improved targeted messaging. Sometimes planning is also playing catch up to technology,” said Graham.

Lara Izlan, director, programmatic trading and innovation at AutoTrader, also said the results reflect the way people are changing in how they consumer content, plus ultimately their path to purchase. This ultimately means car marques need to challenge their traditional advertising strategies to ensure they can reach potential car buyers effectively.

“People don’t want to be sold to in the traditional way. The market is far more transparent; car buyers know what they want, how much to pay for it and where to get it from, before they even leave the house. This has created more competition amongst [car] manufacturers than ever before and therefore less brand loyalty,” she said.

“At Auto Trader, we developed a cross-platform, integrated or "native" ad format that puts the advertiser's message directly into the focus area of users - offering a great opportunity to influence the right audience, at the right time, within the most engaging and highest traffic area of our site, regardless of the device.”

The survey contains further findings and compares the purchasing preferences and habits of media agencies and brand direct buyers, click here to download the full report.