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Best practice native advertising with Becky Smith, Yahoo7 head of insights

Social & Digital

Best practice native advertising with Becky Smith, Yahoo7 head of insights


Research shows native advertising is on the rise. Marketing speaks with Becky Smith about how static and video native can be optimised to get audiences fixated on your content.

According to Business Insider Intelligence, one-in-two companies expect native to grow revenue by 20-30% by 2018. Yahoo reports native mobile ads earn three times more attention that mobile display ads.

Yahoo7’s ‘Native Best Practice 2017’ report outlines best practices for static and native content. For Becky Smith, a key takeaway is the need for marketers to not be afraid to be bold with their branding. “Native as a format has been one that marketers have been quite shy around,” she says.

“They haven’t quite gone bold with their branding because the whole concept of the format is to be a little more native, a little more embedded within that publisher’s content.”

The findings, however, do seem to reveal that bold branding and transparent messaging performs better in a number of ways.

Three tips for best practice static native content:

  1. Use people-based ads: material using images containing people report a 9% higher rate of fixation on desktop than solely object-based material, 25% higher fixation on mobile. People-based ads create higher brand familiarity, a 13% increase in purchases and a 10% recommendation increase when compared with object image creative.
  2. Use large logos: native ad image content featuring logos sees a 10% increase in fixation on PC and a 25% increase on mobile. Logos also increase purchases by 22%, click intent by 19% and share intent by 13%, when compared with creative not using logos.
  3. Mention your brand name: content with brand name mention in a headline sees a 24% increase in aided recall, a 14% increase in recommendation and an 11% increase in purchase compared to creative which doesn’t include a brand’s name.

Six tips for best practice video native content

  1. Shorter is better (but not too short): on both PC and mobile, 15-second ads received higher fixation percentages than 30-second ads.
  2. Label content clearly: users are more likely to interact with native video units with a clear ‘sponsored’ label.
  3. Leverage autostart.
  4. Ensure seamless mobile experience.
  5. Professional beats amateur: professional, well-executed video content performs much better with audiences, particularly in message recall. There is a 450% increase in message recall from amateur to professional video on PC, and a 120% increase on mobile.
  6. Avoid the marketing jargon and copy: videos featuring marketing and advertising text enjoyed 10% less enjoyment than videos without copy. Furthermore, videos with no marketing copy were un-muted 13% more than those including text.

Marketing: what should marketers be focusing on when trying to generate great native content?

becky smithBecky Smith: In terms of my findings, I have a top three.

My first one is all around the permission that native gives marketers. Native as a format has previously been one that marketers have been quite shy around. They haven’t quite gone bold with their branding because the whole concept of the format is to be a little more native, a little more embedded within that publisher’s content. The findings really show that users really want marketers and advertisers to be very bold with their logos and their brand names.

If we look at we look at top of the funnel brand metrics, we see that if the brand uses a larger logo, they’re 10% more likely to get aided recall. If they use their brand name, they’re 24% more likely to get aided recall.

If we look at that bottom end of the funnel – where it’s actually more about consumers taking action – and we look at purchase intent, you can see that also got a really positive impact from having that large logo and that large brandname within the native creative.

That, to me is a really positive step. Consumers are saying ‘stop being shy about this format. Get the message off and get to the point nice and quickly.’

I think the message to marketers is to be bold with your native and don’t be shy, as many typically have.

Another one I really like is the difference between people-based imagery and object-based imagery. There’s a huge difference when you put it on the page like that in terms of effectiveness.

People-based ads and native ads are much more impactful than what we see in object-based ads. If you think about it, it makes sense. You usually see native advertising across publications: news, sports, entertainment, lifestyle. If you think about a consumer’s behaviour when they go through those types of properties, they’re very much looking for relatable content, looking for that people imagery, rather than specifically looking for objects.

The data that we see here: as an example, on mobile fixation – which is essentially the attention that someone’s paying to the native advertisement placement – is up 25% when you compare people-based ads to object-based ads.

We also see the hot metric that most marketers think about is purchase intent. That’s up 13% between people-based and object-based material.

The third one – which is more looking at video native – is the difference between professional versus amateur video content. We’ve seen a bit of a trend in people trying to make viral content. This is a bit of a hard task in itself. You never know these days what’s going to go viral. We’ve seen a lot of brands try and go a bit more amateur with their creative to fit into this viral category, whereas when we actually look at the results, again, on those brand funnel metrics, we can see that professional does beat amateur.

As an example, the message recall on mobile is 120% more from a professional creative than an amateur creative.

There is a declining reliance on text-based content in favour of video and other formats. How will native advertising change over the next five years?

There are lots of stats and studies out there showing that younger generations are more reliant on imagery and more reliant on video. I think it’s a really positive move for native, to be honest.

From a marketers point of view, the really great thing about native being more led by imagery is that they can play about with it more. It’s much easier for marketers to put lots of different versions of their content into market quite quickly and quite cost effectively and say ‘OK, this image is working much better than the other ones that we’ve got here. Let’s divert the traffic with that creative.’

We’re definitely working with some brands who’re being really smart on how they’re testing that throughout the campaign and making sure that they optimise.


Further reading


Image copyright: william87 © 123RF


Ben Ice

Ben Ice was MarketingMag editor from August 2017 - February 2020

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