5 great points on native advertising from Rebecca Lieb

On October 19-20 this year more than 250 marketers gathered in Copenhagen for the first ever Native Advertising days. One of the keynote speakers was Rebecca Lieb, leading industry analyst on native advertising. She made a number of very good points, and here are five that I found particularly interesting.

Rebecca started out by sharing her definition of native advertising, from 2013 and still one of the best I’ve come across:Headshot-Rebecca-Liebnoborder

“Native advertising is a form of converged media that combines paid and owned media into a form of commercial messaging that is fully integrated into, and often unique to, a specific delivery platform”.

Here are the five points she made that I wanted to share with you. I’ve added my own take on them below each one:

Native advertising is labor intensive, the opposite of programmatic advertising.

This is spot on, since working with native requires in-depth knowledge of the media platform and its audience as well as the brand paying for the ads. It’s not something that can be left to algorithms, unless we really want to devalue native ads totally.

Any digital format works well in the beginning.

Currently native advertising feels fresh and the audience is ready to interact with it. But people felt the same way about banner ads in the beginning. Unless we want to hear comparisons to surviving an airplane accident vs clicking on a native ad a couple of years from now all of us have to think really hard about quality.

Don’t expect people (sales teams, brands etc) to just get it.

And Rebecca also noted that ”Publishers would love to sell more, but the sales staff don’t get it”. Again very true, and one of the dangers is of course that a flawed understanding of what native is and what it can deliver will lead to expectations that are unrealistic. Sales teams must be able to explain what native is and what it can do, just like brands and agencies have to learn what it is and set their goals based on this. Real understanding of what it takes to do native and what you can realistically expect from it is so important.

Far too many organizations lack a content strategy

Rebecca’s advice was to “Put in place a foundational content strategy prior to native executions” and to “subject native ad creative to the approval of the content strategy governing body”. Without a clear content strategy, companies will not be able to do native advertising successfully. If you don’t have a consistent and implemented plan for what kind of content you need to have on your own platforms, a target audience and what the content should accomplish – how then can you expect to create and use content on paid media with any effect?

Don’t use publishers-centric metrics only, you need KPIs relating to the business

This is a very important point, and one that was echoed in other presentations. Far too many brands expect publishers to do their measuring for them, instead of developing their own KPIs and using them. I believe it’s important for brands to use publisher-centric metrics as well, as a way of measuring the effectiveness of the content, but it can never tell you have you’re doing from a business perspective.

For more insights from Rebecca you can download her report Defining and mapping the native advertising landscape. I also recommend you visit her website.


If you have questions or comments, on this post or on native advertising in general, share your insights below. Or send me an e-mail.

This is the first in a series of posts with insights and learnings from Native advertising days. If you want to read the others I would suggest following me on Twitter as @PStaunstrup. 

Image source: Matt B, Converging verticals, Flickr

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