Publishers Rank Native Ad Formats by Perceived Effectiveness

HexagramSpada-Most-Effective-Native-Ad-Formats-for-Publishers-Nov2013Most brands and agencies see native advertising in a positive light, even if they may not be in total agreement on a definition of native ads, according to [download page] a new study conducted by Hexagram and Spada. While more publishers (62%) have experience with native ads than brands (41%) and agencies (34%), each group intends to use native ads more in the next year, with the vast majority feeling that the formats add value to consumers. So which online native ad types are most popular – and which appear to be the best bet for monetization?

According to the results of the study – in which more than 1,000 publishers, brands and agencies across the world (primarily in the US) were surveyed – the most commonly used native advertising types are blog posts (65%) and articles (63%), with a majority of survey respondents overall also using Facebook (56%) and videos (52%). Fewer use tweets (46%) and infographics (35%), although those formats are more popular among brands.

When asked which forms of native advertising they think are most effective, publishers pointed to blog posts (58%) and articles (56%) first, with videos (53%) close behind. Interestingly, videos were ranked atop the list by agencies and brands. Facebook (34%) and infographics (31%) were much further behind in the estimations of publishers (with agencies and brands again more favorable), while just one-quarter of publishers and brands felt tweets are among the more effective forms (although agencies were slightly more enthusiastic, at 32%).

Of course, perceived effectiveness depends on measures of effectiveness, and the various respondent groups varied somewhat in their methods. Publishers (70%) and brands (66%) most commonly measure the effectiveness of their native ad campaigns using traffic counts, although agencies say that brands most commonly are focused on engagement.

Meanwhile, one of the big knocks on native ads is that they are misleading to consumers. Yet the survey finds that 8 in 10 publishers claim to clearly label their native ad campaigns, most commonly by indicating that the content is “Sponsored” (64%).

Interestingly, 8 in 10 publishers and 2 in 3 brands that have used native advertising reported having received no backlash at all to their use of the campaigns.

Other Findings:

  • Brands and marketers are using native ads in order to provide a more relevant message (67%), increase consumer engagement (63%) and generate awareness or buzz (62%).
  • 85% of publishers feel that native advertising offers them a new revenue stream. Currently, publishers using native ads estimate that an average of 20.4% of their revenues derive from these campaigns.
  • Brands responding to the survey estimate that they devote 27.5% of their budgets to native ad campaigns. Those same brands expect to allocate one-third of their budgets to native ads next year.
  • The biggest barriers to native advertising growth appear to be budgetary resources (44%) and lack of information about traffic sources and other metrics (30%). More than 1 in 5 cite transparency as an obstacle.

About the Data: The report relies on data collected in an original web-based survey carried out in September 2013 among publishers, brands, and agencies throughout the world. The survey invitation was sent multiple times to email distribution lists sourced from Hexagram’s contacts and 35,000 brands, agencies and publishers in September 2013. The recruitment process yielded a total of 1013 completed surveys. These are made up of 374 individuals working in publishing, 302 working in advertising or PR agencies, and 337 in marketing/ brand management.

Men (76%) and U.S.-based companies (73%) might be overrepresented. Respondents come from a range
of small to large companies, with the plurality (47%) working in small companies with 1 – 9 employees, 32% working in midsize companies with 10 – 250 employees, and 21% in large companies with over 250 employees.