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Lessons From Native Advertising and Branded Content: What Local TV Can Learn

August 22nd, 2018   ||    by Charlene Weisler   ||    No Comments

Native and branded content have been around from the early days of radio and television. But now, in the digital age, these forms of messaging are undergoing an evolution that better adapts them to the sensibilities and behaviors of today’s consumers.

The recent Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) NativexScience conference revealed lessons from native advertising and branded content, and the value that television brings to the equation.

Native and Branded Are Different Advertising Forms

Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, native and branded content are actually quite different. According to Marc Rappin, chief marketing officer at the ARF, native advertising is a paid experience that looks like content. Because it is essentially assimilated into the design of the publisher, it is considered a more seamless experience for the viewer. It is not necessarily used for distribution purposes.

Branded content, on the other hand, is sponsored by the brand for general distribution purposes. The differences are subtle but important.

More Spending and a Move Into Programmatic

What is similar between the two forms of advertising is that they are becoming a bigger slice of the ad spending pie. According to research cited in Marketing Land, digital native advertising will comprise nearly 60 percent of display spending this year in the U.S., while non-social native advertising will increase by more than 80 percent. Overall, native advertising spend will reach about $33 billion this year. This popular advertising trend in the digital world is moving to television as well.

According to Justin Fromm, vice president of business intelligence at Advertiser Perceptions, advertisers report that 40 percent of their native advertising is currently being done programmatically. And the trend is expected to continue: “We are also seeing more and more advertisers dipping their toes into programmatic television,” he shared.

Benefits for Television

According to the Digital Doughnut, networks like CNN and FOX are experimenting with native advertising as an opportunity to better engage with viewers. CNN, for example, is testing out longer, cinematic commercials on its TNT and truTV channels.

On the local television side, native and branded content are expected to have a bigger impact on the market. “It is easy for those who are traditional local advertisers to consider buying native and branded advertising programmatically because it is the same inventory,” Fromm said. “They tend to use the same assets from a linear television standpoint. It becomes just a different way of accessing the same inventory.”

Some advertisers feel very comfortable migrating to TV native and branded because television is a known entity to them. “It is much easier for an agency that manages a national brand to get that brand into programmatic linear than other advanced TV types,” Fromm added, “because some advertisers are wary of OTT and in many cases the measurement is not yet perfected.”

Yet, There Are Obstacles

While native and branded advertising enables companies to engage their target consumers with contextual relevance, there are lessons from native advertising and branded content that need to be applied in the marketplace.

There is still a cost factor in creating these specific pieces of content. It can also be time consuming for the actual content creation and its distribution. Oftentimes there is a lack of support from the creative developers, and it can lack the scale needed to distribute the messaging off specific platforms. There is also the question of who actually owns this content. Currently, many creators retain ownership, but sometimes ultimate ownership must be negotiated and shared.

The creative execution is also a sensitive area. DJ Perera, director of consumer marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim, is a believer in native advertising. “It is a different way of telling our brand story that consumers may not be thinking of for our brand.” But she added, “The story has to match the brand essence and has to align.”

Rate of Change

Advertisers are currently experimenting with native and branded content by committing small amounts of their budgets to that effort. As programmatic evolves, it will be easier for advertisers with larger budgets to use this form of advertising to buy programmatically.

However, as Fromm pointed out, it will also require structural changes in the way the buy and sell side transact. So the next step is up to the companies that currently transact in the programmatic marketplace.

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