The Media in Figures: Native advertising; publishers embracing, agencies slower off the mark

THERE’S been a lot of debate recently about ‘native advertising’ – here, here and here, for example – with some of it about how to define it.

For instance: “Sponsored content, which is relevant to the consumer experience, which is not interruptive, and which looks and feels similar to its editorial environment.”

Advertorials, in newspapers, are a form of native advertising.

And, according to a survey published yesterday, while publishers appear largely to have woken up to its possibilities, prospective providers – such as PR and advertising agencies – are slightly lagging behind.

Commissioned by the company, Hexagram – which brokers native advertising between publishers and agencies – the survey found that 62 per cent of the publishers who took part in the research are already offering native advertising, while only 34 per cent of the agencies involved in the study are offering it as a service.

And – continues the survey, conducted by research and public relations consultancy, Spada – this is despite the fact that 84 per cent of the agencies asked said they believed that native advertising adds value for consumers.

Other findings include:

* 41 per cent of brands are already engaging in native advertising campaigns and over 66 per cent are creating the content themselves;

* 20 per cent of brands and 12 per cent of agencies currently not engaging in native campaigns are planning to start using it within the year;

* 79 per cent of publishers already clearly label native advertising campaigns to distinguish them from editorial content. As a result, the majority of publishers (82 per cent) and brands (71 per cent) surveyed had not received complaints as a result of native advertising campaigns;

* Native advertising represents an average of 20 per cent of total current publisher revenues and publishers expect it to represent 30 per cent of their total revenues within a year;

* The vast majority of publishers (84 per cent), agencies (81 per cent) and brands (78 per cent) believe that native advertising adds value for customers. The survey also found that sponsored content is viewed positively by 56 per cent of brands and 50 per cent of agencies;

* Blog posts (65 per cent), articles (63 per cent) and Facebook (56 per cent) are the most popular forms of native advertising. The most popular way of signposting ad content was through the use of the tags ‘sponsored’ (64 per cent), followed by ‘brought to you by’ (34 per cent) or ‘featured’ (29 per cent);

* Publishers are driving current use, with 62 per cent offering native advertising and another 16 per cent planning to do so within the year; and

* Budgetary resources are the biggest obstacles to increased use of native advertising (cited by 44 per cent of respondents), closely followed by a lack of information about traffic sources and other metrics (30 per cent).

“The State of Native Advertising 2014” survey has been released in co-ordination with the launch of Hexagram, a technology platform that empowers publishers, brands and agencies to build, manage, and optimise their businesses around native advertising.”

Source: State of Native Advertising 2014, published October 31 2013. Says Hexagram, it follows a questionnaire, sent last month – to a worldwide cross-section of professionals working in publishing, advertising and PR agencies – which generated 1,013 responses.