Native Advertising is the ultimate in advertising: an engaging story, guaranteed viewership, and user metrics. Yet, native’s analytics are squeezed into the same metrics that marketers use for the rest of advertising, namely, click through rates and impressions.
For this unique form of advertising, shouldn’t there be another way to measure return on investment?
We’ve stuck to the Marketing 101 metrics of repetition and frequency to measure an advertisement’s efficacy since the inception of advertising.
The cost per thousand impressions (or cost per mille, CPM) metric has been carried over from print or “traditional” advertising and slapped onto digital bits. And, because we can hyperlink digital display we decided to measure the number of clicks on those ads… because we can.
The likelihood that you might want to know more about a product via a click on a digital display ad started to rival the fact that “you are more likely to win the lottery, summit Mt Everest, get into Harvard (and MIT), survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.”
Yet, even though it is clear that clicks are the wrong way to measure digital display, this has become the benchmark.
Like marketing, technology also evolved with tools like search and mobile leading the charge. In fact, search (Alphabet, Google’s parent company) and mobile (Apple, maker of the iPhone) are now the two most valuable companies in the world. Google’s search engine is everywhere, from voice-activated, to in your self-driving car, to right outside your eye.
Likewise mobile is everywhere with both Google and Apple dominating and now surpassing desktop computers as to how people globally access the internet. Both technologies have radically affected how users are using the Internet. They have also changed our perception of marketing and given rise to native advertising.
Unlike a desktop web browser, the mobile app framework creates different experiences when switching between apps. For example, moving from a Facebook post to a hyperlink requires a change in environment (Facebook app to default web browser app).
Being that the experience is not seamless and non-optimal (nearly all users have encountered non-mobile or slow loading pages, autoplay video, or outdated Flash experiences), users have been shown to want to stay within the environment of one app. (We’ve noticed that clicks from mobile are significantly lower than those from desktop).
New behavior: Stay within the app, do not click out to leave.
Equipped with this knowledge, users would rather search for a term than go to a specific website, where everything will have a biased slant.
Search is everywhere with Google leading the way. Forrester Research shows that when conducting research, users first look at peer experiences, product ratings, and finally expert opinions. On mobile, search is the resource that consumers turn to in a “moment of need.” Users know that search provides all of this and an objective view: good, bad, neutral, and paid advertising links all show up. Equipped with this knowledge, users would rather search for a term than go to a specific website, where everything will have a biased slant.
Users know that search provides all of this and an objective view: good, bad, neutral, and paid advertising links all show up. Equipped with this knowledge, users would rather search for a term than go to a specific website, where everything will have a biased slant.
New behavior: Search for everything.
Powerful stories get customers to remember enough about the brands mentioned to be able to find them online
Native advertising or sponsored content grew from the industry’s deafness toward consumer desires. Consumers tolerated a number of advertisements until the intrusiveness level of the ads had reached an all-time high, with the average consumer seeing 5000 ads daily. Any “white space” was filled with an ad.
In response to the clutter, AdBlock, Tivo, and a number of other ad blocking technologies emerged. Coupled with the surge of content creators due to the rise of social media, sponsored content arose from the ability to harness niche opinions, an engaged audience, and widespread distribution.
In addition, the storytelling format allows marketers to tap into the power of an anecdote, which has been shown to sway the decision against thousands of reviews. Powerful stories get customers to remember enough about the brands mentioned to be able to find them online. Furthermore, good stories don’t get blocked and some get shared.
New Behavior: Powerful stories help us remember the things we want to try in the cluttered world of ads.
When something interests us, we don’t click, we search.
Where has search + mobile + native advertising led us to?
This trio of technologies, mobile, search, and native, has led us to consume more content via walled gardens like Facebook or Twitter.
This perfect storm of technology and advertising innovation along with massive changes in human behavior has contributed to the rendering of the click through to the brands’ website as irrelevant.
But what can we use to measure our marketing spends? How do we calculate an ROI for our advertising?
When something interests us, we don’t click, we search. The ubiquity and ease of search lead to everyone scrubbing their results through a search engine. If we can show an increase in searches using a tool like Google Trends we can thus prove an interest in the topic. We can see how Google search acted as a proxy for the US election.
By placing stories into the minds of consumers, marketers can figure out which stories truly made an impression by leading to a search. Technology coupled with storytelling has yielded us this new form of advertising, which can be measured by search. Search has now become a surrogate for what is captivating us, from being able to forecast things like flu outbreaks to potential sales.
Can we replace the click through with search trends? We believe so, but only our searches can tell the future.