One of the biggest industry discussions has been around native vs interruptive advertising and which approach is more effective.
When a brand starts developing a campaign, which should get the larger chunk of the budget? What will influence a purchasing decision better? What will get the message out more effectively?
Let’s start out with the basics: the definitions.
Native Advertising (also known as “integrated advertising”):
Native ads place brand content such as videos, photos and articles directly into the content of the publisher’s website, matching it up with the website instead of fitting ads into boxes separated from and around the content. Some of the examples include but are not limited to: Facebook Sponsored Stories; Twitter’s Promoted Tweets; promoted videos on YouTube; promoted articles like TrendHunter Sponsored Posts and BuzzFeed’s Featured Partner content; Yelp Sponsored Listings and promoted playlists on Spotify.
In a nutshell, a more traditional approach of ad placement through which the ad is separated more obviously from the website content. Examples include but are not limited to: Pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, video banners, boxes, buttons, pop-ups, as well as traditional TV and print commercials.
Is this the end of Interruptive Advertising?
Bloggers and social media critics have been quick to praise the shift towards native advertising while looking down on interruptive ads but we’re not so fast to follow. Although the general trend is leaning towards native advertising, interruptive ads are not going anywhere just yet.
Without a doubt in this day and age, aggressively pursuing consumers’ attention can be perceived as an invasion and cause annoyance as well as repulsion to the brand. If you don’t get the social sphere, your brand will be frowned upon by the digital savvy and smart consumers of today. It is true that people generally respond much better in a natural setting. You could argue that the most effective advertising has always been native to the environment. For example, on the radio, a native ad can be considered a live DJ recommendation or other earned media in traditional forums. From just a pure user interaction, this adds more to the experience rather than the interruption. Speaking from experience, the best click through rate is received from Facebook ads that target friends of friends and note the recommendation of their peers rather than direct brand advertising.
Leading the path with native advertising is video. Video is the most promising asset for scalable native advertising. Brands and agencies are doubling down on video production, beyond traditional 15-30 second ads. The commitment of branded content production and native video advertising pours yet more fuel on the fire in whichever direction you look.
Whether you like to admit it or not, interruptive marketing practices have been recognized as beneficial for advertisers with ads increasing consumers’ brand recall, recognition, and awareness. It also appears as though people are still responsive to the interruptive ads such as prerolls. For example, findings by a researcher Daisley actually contrast an earlier case study of YouTube ads from February 2011 (that states 70% of users skip the ads prior the video). In this study, the advertiser was the sportsbrand ‘GoPro’ who served a series of ads of 30, 90 and 120 seconds to showcase their sports cameras. They reported that only 35% of users chose to skip their pre-roll ads, certainly a lot lower than the 70% being claimed by Youtube as the user average.
By this point, people are more used to this form of advertising and are comfortable with the fact that they can access good content from brands by choosing to watch the ads. Previously, the skipping option was also a novelty to users because this was not previously a regular offering and the clicking could be purely to see the effect, rather than it being a reflection of disinterest in the brand. Furthermore, there are studies stating that interruptive ads have an impact on the consumers’ actual purchase behavior – and in particular on their willingness to pay for the advertised product depending on the control he or she have upon it (eg. Being presented an option to skip a preroll will appear the ad less repulsive and the user will be more likely to engage).
When do you draw the line with native advertising?
Native advertising can also appear too intrusive to the consumer when lines are crossed. When market researchers are literally wiring consumers up and tracking where their eyeballs go, the searches and the conversations, it may be tough to balance. Consumers are more used to intrusive advertising but when native ads blend in a little too well, it makes them uncomfortable:
Most consumers also say they don’t think advertisers should be allowed to target ads based on browsing behavior — 67% of those polled in a December 2010 USA Today/Gallup poll.
There is still a huge sentiment against online behaviour advertising with the words “tracking” not being very well received. Although interruptive advertising still targets consumers based on the available data, it follows an approach that consumers are more used to rather than blending in fully. When does it become too much? How well can you blend in an ad before all trust is lost?
There is no easy answer but basically, it all comes down to content. You need to be a great story teller and have a great story to tell whether through a sponsored Facebook post or a preroll video on YouTube.
Digital has made it easier to reach the right consumers and consumers respond much better to relevant advertising. You just need to be consistent with it.
Brand building is defined as “building the perceptions of your target audience.” Consistency and repetition are a sure way to create a focused brand image and ingrain your message into the minds of those you are trying to reach. This means sending out this message throughout various channels: native and interruptive, traditional and nontraditional.