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UK native advertising benchmarks for publishers, from Polar


By Jessica Davies | News Editor

August 12, 2014 | 4 min read

Native advertising platform Polar, which works with UK premium publishers including Hearst UK, the Economist, News UK, the Telegraph and IPC Media, has prepared a set of UK native advertising benchmark takeaways exclusively for The Drum.

Polar, which serves 300 million native ads in the UK and 1.5 billion globally, also works with US publishers such as the Washington Post, Slate, Condé Nast, Hearst, News Corp and Martha Stewart Living, to help them create, serve, and scale their native advertising.

The Drum has compiled the main takeaways provided by Polar, for publishers looking for answers in this area:

  1. Above the fold: Much like display ads, native ads that are above the fold always perform better with 35 per cent higher click-through rates globally and even better in the UK at 42 per cent.
  2. Home page or article page placings: CTRs are better with ads on the article page, specifically 43 per cent better in the UK. Polar has attributed this to a few factors – the main one being that most readers spend more time on article pages which in turn, typically, have fewer links on them.
  3. Badging: When a publisher is initially badging their native ad placements it is better to use a new badge rather than over-ride the existing badge – articles achieve on average a 65 per cent better CTR when a new one is used, according to Polar.
  4. Disclosure: is important to ensure native ads are signposted for readers, in the UK especially. Polar sees 73 per cent better CTR when the background has prominent shading over lighter shading, and a 94 per cent better CTR when using a client’s logo in the native ad spot. Globally, the opposite is true, with 57 per cent higher CTR for light shading, and only 12 per cent better CTR for native ads using a client’s logo.
  5. Headline length: globally 40 to 60 characters is the “sweet spot” for higher CTR in native ad campaigns, while in the UK more length is better – 60 to 80 characters produce higher CTRs.
  6. Content: The majority (84 per cent) of UK publishers want to create the content for native advertising that appears on their site, whereas 12 per cent say it’s a mix between the publisher’s and the client’s content, according to Polar. Meanwhile globally, half of all surveyed publishers create the content, 14 per cent accept it from the client, and 36 per cent use a mix of the two.
  7. Pricing: 60 per cent of UK publishers use sponsorship pricing for native ad units, while 40 per cent use a mix of sponsorship and other models. No one yet uses cost per mille (CPM) or cost per engagement (CPE) exclusively.
  8. Mobile CTR: UK audiences prefer to consume content, and sponsored content, on mobile. A native ad has a 64 per cent higher CTR on a smartphone over the desktop in the UK, compared to 31 per cent globally.
  9. Tablets: Readers in the UK spend an average three minutes and 37 seconds engaging with a native ad on tablet (measured as time spent) - 30 per cent higher than the global average. Meanwhile, UK readers have 39 per cent higher engagement on tablet over desktop, and 45 per cent higher engagement on smartphone over desktop.
  10. Mobile ads served: 27 per cent of native ads are served on mobile in the UK, compared to less than 20 per cent globally.
  11. Visibility: Two thirds (60 per cent) of publishers’ native ads are visible only to UK readers.
  12. Location: Readers outside of London are twice as likely to engage with a native ad versus those within the capital.

The Washington Post Drum News UK

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