Native advertising is projected to be an $85 billion global industry by 2021 and is considered an essential solution by marketers looking to meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer.
Consider that there are two ways in which people engage with content. The first is passive. Think of scrolling through a bottomless feed with an algorithm serving user-generated content geared toward your interests. This content competes for attention, and while it can be great for random accidents of discovery, it can make it difficult for brands to make a lasting connection.
The second way is more active. People visit destinations that feature professionally generated content they care about to satisfy a daily need. Think of people checking email, looking at sports highlights, or seeking out stock advice.
Native ads give brands the opportunity to align with the intention of their audience, instead of fighting for their attention. And the format is a valuable opportunity to harness that alignment and attention to drive online commerce through compelling and relevant native campaigns.
Native & commerce
Ecommerce is booming. In the US, sales grew 15% last year. And when today’s customers are ready to buy, they want easily accessible product information, a quick and easy checkout process, and seamless interaction between digital and offline channels. With ecommerce, marketers have a scaled opportunity to capture consumer hearts and wallets, but it takes an understanding of what customers want and creating meaningful interactions across the path to purchase.
This is where native formats come in. The inherent nature of native ads, with the more seamless user experience, lends itself directly to online commerce.
As a result, we are seeing a new generation of native ad formats emerge that are built specifically for online shoppers. These ads bring the store shopping experience to the ad, while also being tailored to each user’s unique shopping history.
From shoppable catalogues to augmented reality showrooms to interactive gaming previews, these new native commerce formats eliminate steps to conversion, allow for better product exploration, and leverage data to create personalized experiences that show an understanding of an individual’s past actions, product interest and intent. Every element works together to promote commerce as the primary goal of the campaign.
Here are some of the most promising next-gen native commerce formats available today, based on conversations I’ve had with some of the world’s biggest ecommerce brands.
1. Panorama native formats are compelling formats because they draw people into an immersive, interactive 360-degree experience showcasing the brand. Ads with this 360-degree functionality can see 2x higher interaction from consumers.
2. Catalog-like experience formats allow consumers to shop directly within the ad environment. These ads show 5x more average engagement.
3. Dynamic Product ads, originally created for the search environment, have evolved well beyond that channel. They allow a brand to retarget high-intent users based on past shopping behavior or abandoned carts. Brands I’ve spoken to say that these type of in-feed ads impressively generate over 100,000 orders every quarter.
4. Mobile Wallet ads are exciting because they bridge the online-to-offline divide with a dynamic native ad, sending digital coupons with time and location push notifications to smartphone wallets. Seventy percent of people find mobile wallet ads useful, with nearly two-thirds more likely to purchase after interacting with one.
5. Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) allow brands to offer engaging mobile experiences that integrate into a physical environment to produce retail-like experiences. Take Pottery Barn, which is an innovator in AR. The retailer recently used a native AR format to create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase by allowing shoppers to view a variety of home furnishings within their actual home. The experience drove an average time spent of 2.4 minutes within the ad, as well as an 8.9% CTR.
These results across a variety of next-generation native ad formats for commerce all point to more orders, higher conversion rates, more engagement, and increased return on ad spend.
In the age of experience, marketers need to create more meaningful connections between brands and their intended audiences, and native is successful because it evolves at the pace of the intended audience. Digital ads started with a small square static image and have grown to become a future-first format adapting to the way users experience content across premium contexts.
Native ads are designed to change and help advertisers think beyond traditional impressions and more about the quality of each interaction. This quality, along with the seamless user experience, is driving online commerce. The native ad impact on brands’ commerce opportunities is enormous.
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