We love media. It is undeniable. The average US adult spends less than 3½ waking hours in a day not engaging in media. Sounds crazy, but the numbers don’t lie.
There are 24 hours in a day, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American sleeps 8.8 hours a night. That leaves roughly 15.2 waking hours. According to eMarketer, US adults spend over 12 hours daily with media, and 47% of those hours are spent with digital media. Wow. Only 3.2 hours without media! That is scary for the future of face-to-face conversation in this country, but represents a significant opportunity for marketers.
Stand in line at Starbucks and you will see everyone on their phones. Jump on a train or a subway, and everyone is glued to a screen. We can’t walk down the street without seeing a blue screen pop up as folks walk by. Screens are everywhere.
With so much screen time, how is a marketer to most effectively communicate with prospects?
According to Forrester, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get information about a company in the form of articles versus an advertisement. According to Shareaholic, 70% of people in the U.S. want to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising. Smart marketers know content marketing is critical to business success. According to the Content Marketing Institute 87% of B2B content marketers and 77% of B2C content marketers use content marketing.
Media. Content. The marriage of these reflects the market trends we are seeing, and represents an effective way for you to engage with your target audiences. This leads, though, to the question of how best to accomplish the integration of media and content.
Introducing Native Advertising
The merging of media and content has lead to what’s called “native advertising,” in which the form and function of an ad mirrors that of the platform on which it appears. And native advertising is fast gaining momentum. According to IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough, people are now spending almost the same amount of time reading native ad content as editorial content. eMarketer estimates that the market for native ads in the US will be worth roughly $5 billion by 2017.
Does that mean banner ads are dead? Not necessarily, but the case can be made that native advertising would deck banner ads in a street fight any day of the week. Check out these stats:
- A study by Yahoo! found that native ads drove a 3.6x lift in branded search vs. conventional ads. And the same study found that 60% of consumers “feel positive” about the format.
- Consumers are 25% more likely to look at a native ad than at a banner, and they look at them 53% more frequently. They check native ads out 4.1 times per session on average, versus 2.7 times for banners, according to Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.
- Brands are jumping on board, too. CMO.com reported GE’s native advertising campaign resulted in a CTR of 8%, while on the flip side GE’s display advertising CTR average was 0.19%.
What Are You Waiting For?
Clearly, marketers should test native advertising as part of their marketing mix. However, many marketers still shy away. Why? The National Advertisers 2015 Survey Report states that the top barriers to participating in native advertising are that marketers just don’t know enough about native advertising and they have transparency concerns.
Over time, these concerns should be naturally addressed as native advertising becomes more commonplace. In testing native advertising, though, it’s important that you approach it intelligently. To that end, the following are the two most critical components to native advertising success:
- Be transparent. Ensure that any publisher you advertise with clearly labels the content as an advertisement or sponsored content.
- Measure performance and adjust accordingly. Take it beyond typical metrics like CTR and conversion rate. Measure engagement with your content and how that engagement translates into loyal customers for the greatest lifetime value.
Measuring Native Advertising Performance
On the topic of measurement, Upworthy created a robust platform to measure engagement with native advertising on their site. They explain this engagement as “attention minutes, a fine-grained and unforgiving metric that tells us whether people are really engaged with our content or whether they’ve moved on to the next thing.”
Attention minutes takes engagement to the next level, looking at total attention on site, per day, week, hour, etc. and total attention per piece. Total attention per piece is a mix of how the user engages with a piece of content, for example, when a user watches a video, how long they watch a video, and if they watch the entire video.
Evaluate the analytics you have available. Look at the time consumers spend with each of your content pieces, and how and when they consume and share it. Then optimize.
Remember, media & content, media & content, media & content. If you have yet to try native advertising, start testing it as part of your overall marketing mix. Identify content platforms which make the most sense for your particular target audiences, and remember to measure performance as granularly as possible.