With consumers installing ad blockers and now browser companies following suit, not to mention ad fraud, domain spoofing, lack of viewability and disastrously poor brand-safety measures as a further body of evidence, let’s be honest with ourselves. Mistakes were made in the first decade of the programmatic revolution.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m an optimist. Learning from our previous mistakes is the key to future success, as long as they are not repeated. With over 10 years of programmatic experience under our belts for display and pre-roll video, what have we learned that we can apply to programmatic native? After all, it represented 84 percent of the total that eMarketer expected would be spent on native display last year, and the overall total is predicted to grow to $28 billion in 2018.
Despite its growth, marketers often overlook the operative word of native programmatic: Native. In the case of targeting, marketers are guilty of applying the same “reach-at-all-costs” strategy to their native programmatic buys as their traditional display campaigns. The result is that their brand message is placed without regard to the context of the page or even the site on which it is seen.
This needs to change.
Beware the blurred lines
Some of the confusion and lack of nuance is certainly understandable. The native programmatic space — in fact, the native space overall — has always struggled with definitions.
We’ve officially blurred the lines to the point that, on the programmatic front, most advertisers have given up on treating programmatic display and native programmatic as distinct entities. And here’s the problem with that: When it comes to native, context matters a whole lot more than it does in traditional display.
Consider this scenario: A brand sells designer stilettos, and thus is seeking to reach a female audience of high-end fashion lovers. Certain members of their target audience might also happen to love sports and frequent ESPN.com. As a premium publisher, ESPN.com is just fine as far as quality standards are concerned, so the publication makes the cut on the site list developed to preserve brand safety.
Under the traditional display regime, driven by audience targeting, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with serving a high-end fashion lover a traditional display ad for stilettos on ESPN.com. When she sees the banner over in the right rail, she gets it. That’s her ad, tailored according to preferences demonstrated elsewhere. But it’s separated from the feed.
However, that’s not her reaction when, instead, she encounters a content-driven placement promoting “5 Fashion Tips for This Spring” sandwiched between the Giants’ box score and last night’s Warriors highlights. That’s a bad user experience — one that causes her to stop and wonder, “Wait, why am I seeing this here? I’m on a sports site.” Stilettos are incongruous with the user experience.That’s bad for both ESPN and the fashion brand.
The context conundrum: Safety vs. scale
At present, programmatic advertising across the board is in the middle of …read more
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