Native advertising has come of age. That was the message from the Native Advertising seminar on the first day of the 2015 World Publishing Expo in Hamburg, held this month.
Although there’s still debate over how native advertising is actually defined, it is essentially online/digital advertising that fits in with the editorial environment of the publication: for instance a ‘sponsored post’ or article, rather than a banner advertisement.
According to Jay Rosen (Professor at NYU), the challenge is to make it ‘as worth reading as the editorial into which it is mixed’, though it’s also important to label it as distinct from that editorial. It’s perfect for professional services companies who want to establish their credentials, and is also very compatible with mobile devices.
At this event two years ago native advertising was still in its infancy. Large publishers such as Forbes were only just starting to take it seriously, and though it was referred to as ‘the next big thing’ in the Local Media Association’s 2013 Innovation Report, there was still a question mark whether it was even commercial viable.
It’s remarkable how fast things have changed. One of the contributors to that report, Ben Shaw (Director Global Advisory at WAN-IFRA, organisers of the Expo), explained in Hamburg how Forbes’ pioneering ‘Brand Voice’ service now makes a significant contribution to its online revenue, and there are examples of publishers of all shapes and sizes making it pay.
The key seems to be that publishers around the world have started to figure out exactly what works in native advertising and what doesn’t- such as how best to label it, present it and index it.
It’s anyone’s guess what the landscape will look like in another two years, but it seems like native is here to stay.