Native advertising expert and CMO influencer, Chad Pollitt, is the only person in the world that has catalogued the entire global native advertising technology landscape. His expertise in native advertising technology has lead us to ask him about trends within native advertising technology, the biggest challenges, and why it is so important to use technology within the industry.
In January there were around 280 native ad tech companies. Today there’s over 360.
What are the biggest trends in native advertising technology at the moment?
There are many trends I could point to, but a 5,000-word blog post wouldn’t be prudent for this discussion. That said, let’s focus on the ones many aren’t already talking about.
Here are two competing trends that I find very interesting:
1. Consolidation – acquisitions are happening left and right and all over the globe.
2. New native technology startups – at the same time consolidation is happening, new companies are sprouting up all over the place. In fact, in January there were around 280 native ad tech companies. Today there’s over 360.
A third trend worth mentioning is the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) into certain native ad tech verticals. Just this month, IZEA (influencer advertising company) announced its integration of AI. Adyoulike is integrated with IBM’s Watson technology. Those are just a few of the dozens of companies integrating AI, machine learning, and natural language processing.
Another trend that’s beginning to take shape is the idea that Facebook is a gateway drug to other native ad tech vendors. The global spend on native advertising by 2020 is expected to surpass $85 billion. What most people don’t realize is that Facebook is projected to be 60% of that spend. So as marketers and advertisers get more comfortable using platforms like Facebook they’ll be more likely to use other native ad tech, too.
This leads me to the last trend I’ll mention – DSPs or Managed Service Providers. This is a vertical within native ad tech that acts like a middleman between media buyers and networks. It’s one user interface where marketers and advertisers can manage their Facebook, Twitter, Outbrain, Taboola, Revcontent, etc. campaigns. This is advantageous because campaigns and networks can be correctly measured against each other. It also provides much more scale. This is why I call Facebook the gateway drug.
One of the toughest challenges is simply knowledge (…) Another challenge simply comes down to confusion with terminology.
What are the biggest challenges when wanting to use native advertising technology at the moment?
One of the toughest challenges is simply knowledge.
Most industry folks can’t even name 10 native ad tech vendors. Also, most aren’t aware that native can be done using audio, video, virtual reality, in emails, etc. That’s why the Native Advertising Institute put together this complete directory. It’s so people have a place to go to educate themselves on the technology.
Another challenge simply comes down to confusion with terminology. Ad tech companies, marketers and publishers seem to use a different lexicon. For example, when a publisher calls something sponsored content it means something totally different to a marketer and most ad tech vendors.
When a marketer uses the phrase branded content it means something different to publishers. Other phrases that get all mixed up and mean different things depending on who the stakeholder is include content marketing, influencer marketing, and native advertising.
This terminology problem is actually having a drag effect on the immediate growth of all forms of native advertising. While it’s still growing, I’d argue that it would be growing even faster if the different stakeholders would agree on the language.
Do you believe it’s a necessity for the industry to use native advertising technology – and why?
If efficiency and optimization are important, then yes. For publishers, it can have a direct impact on workflow and revenue. For content marketers, it provides cost-effective distribution at scale. I liken this question to asking a sales professional if they should use CRM technology or asking a marketer if they should use marketing automation.
The fact of the matter is that the amount of content being published on the web today is astronomical.
Marketers can’t rely on the organic channels of last decade to deliver the traffic they so desire. There’s only 10 organic positions on the first page of Google and likely thousands, if not millions, of pages vying for them. Social media has squashed its organic visibility for brands, too.
As a result, brands are having to find new channels to get the visibility they need. That’s why influencer marketing is so popular today, too. On the paid side, you have native advertising.
This channel is exceptional at distributing top-funnel content and often can avoid ad blockers. Other, more mature paid channels lend themselves to the distribution of mid- to bottom-funnel content and tend to be much more pricey when compared to native advertising technology.
What do you think will be the future of native advertising technology?
Today, an infrastructure of big data collection is happening at an unprecedented rate. Apple watches are tracking vital signs, thermostats are tracking temperature and movement throughout a home, Amazon Echos are listening to our conversations, etc. Traditional demographic and targeting indicators will be far less useful for targeting when these sources of big data are utilized.
Many think that virtual reality is the next big thing. I believe it’s just a bridge to get us to augmented reality via a wearable. Think Google Glass, but as contact lenses. Add the big data described above and native advertising will be a true one-to-one channel where the individual will be sent custom content that knows their name and their emotional state at the time. Of course, this will have a thick layer of AI interwoven throughout.
The perfect example of what I’m describing above is in the movie, “Minority Report.”
Chad Pollitt is an official speaker at Native Advertising DAYS 2017. Here’s why he believes attendees at Native Advertising DAYS should absolutely not miss his presentation:
I’m the only person in the world that has painstakingly cataloged the entire global native advertising technology landscape.
The weeks of time invested in this endeavor will be boiled down to this one presentation. Never will attendees have a greater opportunity to learn about the technology landscape is such a robust and efficient way.
Attendees will discover new channels, opportunities, and potential technology partners. There’s technology for publishers, marketers, advertisers and communicators, alike – all will be featured.