Video has attracted the interest of advertisers, which means that it has become a point of emphasis for publishers as well. This has brought on increased competition for traditional pre-roll inventory, forcing both advertisers and publishers alike to explore new units that can deliver video experiences.
One area that has grown immensely in popularity is native video, with publishers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Hearst, Forbes, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed all exploring native models. Native’s growth isn’t simply due to the fact that it’s available and fulfilling the market demand for more inventory. Instead, it’s growing in popularity - and performance - for reasons that fly in the face of conventional ad industry wisdom. Here’s a look at what’s driving native video’s growth.
Generational preference for native
When older generations think of advertising, they’re likely to recall TV commercials or print pages. But younger generations that grew up online and with multiple devices have different preferences that match their media consumption habits. A study of millennial internet users (ages 18 to 34 at the time) found that 58% view native advertising as their “preferred” ad type, according to data compiled in eMarketer's "US Native Advertising Update: Focus on Video." With the continued use of ad blockers, we’re seeing that when advertising doesn’t meet user preferences, audiences will find a way to tune it out.
While millennials have a demonstrable preference for native, they’re not the only ones whose behaviors and habits are shifting toward native-friendly media. Social media, and the endless scrolling feed formats, have been instrumental in shaping how consumers will respond to ads that fit within their content streams. Nearly twice as many adults get their news online compared to print, with 18 percent doing so via social media, according to the Pew Research Center.
With more consumers turning to social and apps to interact with content, the preference for non-intrusive, seamless advertising is only going to get more powerful, with more than 80 percent of the audience skipping pre-rolling ads, and the influence of disruptive formats will recede.
Native is read as well as seen
Video itself can often be labeled as a disruption. After all, pre-roll, mid-roll and interstitial ads can remove a consumer from their experience on the page. These are popular video formats for advertisers, because they are similar to the classic TV commercial break, reaching what is, in theory, a captive audience. Yet online, these formats feel inappropriate, with 55% of consumers finding pre-roll intrusive on the desktop, according to eMarketer.
Conventional wisdom is that video ads derive their value from time spent. Completion rate is regarded as king, and getting a consumer to sit through the entirety of a 15- or 30-second is a sign of success. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Research shows that the majority of brand impact is achieved in the first 5 to 10 seconds of a video, according to Facebook. After that, the impact on basic brand metrics is subdued, meaning that time spent on the screen alone is not proof of capturing a consumer’s attention.
Because native is designed to fit within the context of the page in a seamless manner, it is built around a combination of both video and headline. When placed in-feed or in-article, both text and video are seen and create a lasting impression, no matter how much time is spent with the video.
On the whole, headline-rich native ads receive 100 percent more attention than banner ads, according to Nielsen Neuroscience research. Marketers investing in video would be wise to look deeper than completion rate and better understand how native elicits real human attention.
New programmatic capabilities
Finally, the other unnoticed reason that native video is taking off is perhaps the most obvious: it’s easier than ever for brands to buy it at scale. Native has matured to the point where there is standardization across publishers and the networks and SSPs that provide access to these publishers. With well-established, reliable pipes in place, marketers can easily pursue their desired audience by purchasing native units across the web. Publishers will likely continue direct-sales of their native video, but they’ll also reap the benefits of offering this inventory programmatically, taking advantage of growing capabilities in audience and data-powered targeting.
Marketers eager to increase their investment in video advertising are likely exploring native video placements. By taking a closer look underneath the hood to determine what’s actually driving the growth and impacting future performance, they can better understand how native video fits into their strategy, and how much they should be willing to invest now and in the future.