National advertisers involved in native advertising, branded content and TV integrated marketing are devoting ever-larger proportions of their TV and digital budgets to these efforts and reporting greater maturity with native advertising, according to research made available to MarketingCharts by Advertiser Perceptions.

The study results are based on a survey of 457 marketer and agency contacts from the Advertiser Perceptions Media Decision Maker Database. All respondents have decision-making oversight in Native, Branded Content and/or Integrated Marketing (the latter defined as “inserting a brand or brand messaging into content,” in this case specific to TV.)

This year respondents estimated allocating fully 28% of their TV and digital budgets to native, which encompasses the aforementioned formats – native ads and branded content for digital efforts and integrated marketing (such as product placements) for TV. That represents an increase from 25% last year and 18% in 2014, reflecting the greater attention paid to these formats.

It’s certainly a sizable portion of the budget going to native now, but rising budgets, at least, have been somewhat expected. For example, a study released late last year by AdMedia Partners found 71% of marketing, media and advertising executives executives anticipating that custom content / native advertising spending would grow by at least 10% this year, up from two-thirds feeling that way about such spending in 2017.

TV integrated marketing budget trends have been more conflicting. Last year Nielsen found that the total number of sponsored integrations on TV during original non-sports primetime programming on broadcast networks had declined for the third consecutive year.

However integrated marketing efforts for TV remain attractive for respondents to the Advertiser Perceptions research, who primarily see their effectiveness in breaking through the increasingly cluttered ad breaks. Data from Kantar Media confirms that despite some chatter about cuts to ad time, primetime TV ad loads haven’t declined in the past year.

Meanwhile, returning to native advertising, the Advertiser Perceptions results indicate that two-thirds of national advertisers now include native regularly and consider it a key part of their digital strategy. By contrast, far fewer are only beginning to adopt and use (26%) or test (8%) native, indicating greater maturity. (It’s worth noting that these results are among those involved in native and branded content decisions, as opposed to the wider advertising community.)

In terms of their digital efforts, respondents overall estimated allocating 54% of the native budget to branded content against 46% to native advertising. As regards the native advertising portion, 40% of efforts are bought programmatically, per the research.

Other Highlights

Further highlights from the research follow.

  • The top reasons why advertisers are using native advertising and branded content are because they: are effective at building brand awareness; effectively influence consumers’ perceptions of the brand; and enhance the user’s experience and add value. Previous data from Nielsen supports these results, having found that branded content (including TV show brand integrations) are more effective than pre-roll video ads across several KPIs.
  • Native ads and branded content spending is fairly evenly split across performance-focused and brand-focused campaigns. The former count actual sales/traffic to stores and e-commerce sites as their main objective, while the latter count awareness of products and services as their top objective.
  • Although integrated marketing campaigns on TV continue to mainly have branding objectives (building awareness and increasing consideration/preference/purchase intent), advertisers are also imposing sales conversion and customer acquisition goals on these placements.
  • 3 in 4 advertisers find it very or somewhat important to retain ownership of publisher developed content and advertisers report retaining almost two-thirds (64%) of publisher-developed content, up from 56% last year.

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