Marketers must keep up with technology and data as native advertising spend grows.
Native advertising has already been demonstrating its resilience, its mix of engagement and performance, tempting agencies and clients to create ads that blend in seamlessly but effectively.
In fact, native advertising campaigns outperform almost every other digital format. This is backed up by studies that have shown average click-through rates for premium native ads that are four times higher than non-native display ads on mobile devices. But is this as far as it goes?
As marketers become more familiar with this format, they would also be advised to keep up with the changing environments that are driving native advertising. Here’s a look at how things are developing right now in this fast-moving field.
Next-gen native ads
XR, or extended reality native experiences that blur the line between the real and simulated worlds, will be among the key technologies this year as advertisers seek to innovate. With augmented and virtual realities and 360-degree videos ready to fuel disruption in native advertising, revenues are poised to go through the roof.
It’s hard to ignore the numbers. According to industry monitor Artillery Intelligence, 2021 will see astonishing revenues of US$14 billion from augmented reality advertising, just five years after the segment struggled to break its first billion.
Accenture found that just over half of the businesses it surveyed for the latest Technology Vision report are currently developing XR strategies to tap into consumers’ demand for engaging visual formats.
Virtual reality, meanwhile, will be used by a third of the world’s consumers, if research by Ericsson ConsumerLab is to be believed. Given that this study claims to represent the views of 1 billion media consumers worldwide, it’s probably onto something.
For brands, there is a tremendous opportunity to stand out in these environments. Amazon India is already doing this with “VR zones” in malls that allow customers to preview dresses modelled in 3D and other features to encourage better customer experiences.
In another example, Sony Pictures Taiwan successfully managed to leverage AR technology, by our Ad Creative Tech team in Singapore, to create a mobile game featuring characters from the movie Hotel Transylvania. Users engaged with the characters through AR for a chance to win free tickets to the movie - providing users with a fun, unique and fresh experience.
To top it off, users were also able to use their phone camera in Hong Kong Ocean Park to take pictures with the characters during the Halloween season, which drove a craze on social networks with users taking snaps and sharing their experiences.
We are sure to see more advertisers exploiting the quality of engagement next-gen native ads offer this year. To do so, they must find new ways to leverage innovative technologies to deliver ever more immersive and innovative campaigns.
The coming year will see advertisers looking more broadly at new formats to diversify into, fuelled by developments in XR advertising experiences and native video. To amplify growing spends on native advertising, advertisers will demand bigger audiences and better performance at scale for their campaigns.
Some native video ads are already achieving massive scale, especially in markets like India, where consumers spend nine-tenths of their screen time on smartphones and tablets.
This format has become so successful on mobile because it provides users with an organic, seamless experience in the form of a story, not a flurry of product details. This, in turn, helps native videos get more engagement and shares.
Connecting with consumers
By 2021, 1.8 billion Asia-Pacific residents—that’s almost two-thirds of the population—will own a smartphone. With native video and next-gen advertising appearing ever more enticing on these devices, brands are getting more creative about how they engage consumers.
Yet it is much harder for an advertiser to translate its brand experience online consistently. This is why the brightest brands are going beyond content and brand visibility through display advertising, and incorporating e-commerce opportunities across touchpoints.
At the same time, not enough brands are comfortable using data insights to tailor their content. Though they have more data than ever to personalise their stories and decide on the best platforms for their purpose, they must use this vast resource which will only continue to grow.
Likewise, marketers must become more familiar with activating data to develop and deliver the best campaigns. It is no coincidence that those platforms that use data to reach and understand audiences are also the ones that enhance the data to make it smarter.
It is good then that demand-side platforms have been evolving to deliver features that centralise and unify audience data. By not revealing deep insights to the broadest extent, the new native technologies cannot hope to reach their full potential.
Chia-Fang Kuo is senior director, APAC Media Solutions, Verizon Media.