2015 Native Advertising Survey shows a small shift in web users’ perceptions of native advertising.2014 SURVEY REDUX In April 2014, Semify conducted a survey to better understand the relationship consumers have with native advertising. The same survey was conducted again in April 2015 in order to gauge whether or not there has been a shift in how consumers view native advertising.
CONSUMER ATTITUDES ABOUT NATIVE ADVERTISINGEach year the concept of native advertising becomes more appealing to businesses, advertising firms, and internet users. According to a Business Insider article, the estimated amount of money spent on native advertising in 2014 was $7.9 billion and is expected to reach $10.7 billion by the end of 2015—the majority of which will be targeted towards social media sites. Business Insider categorizes native advertising into three different styles: Social-native, Native-style display ads, and sponsored content. Each has its own form and function and which version to use depends on how a business prefers to communicate with its target audience. In 2013, native-style display ads only accounted for $1 billion of the total amount spent on native advertising. This number is estimated to increase to $1.9 billion in 2015, and $5.7 billion in 2018. This increase in spend on native advertising is the result of users wanting to learn more about products and services via the content they are already viewing. In fact, a 2014 Huffington Post article found that 70% of individuals preferred this way of advertising as opposed to traditional methods. The general consensus is that native advertising is working in a way that does not take away from user experience on the Web. Business Insider calls for digital marketers to understand that social native ads and other forms of native advertising will dominate the industry as more companies figure out better, more successful online tactics to reach target markets (such as using Facebook Newsfeed, promoted Tweets, and even promoted Snaps via Snapchat). What makes native advertising so enticing, and is it as lucrative as the digital media industry believes it to be? The results of a survey conducted in 2015, compared to an identical survey conducted in 2014, show a small shift in web users’ perceptions of native advertising.
MAJORITY HAVE READ A “SPONSORED” OR “PROMOTED” ARTICLE ON THE INTERNET
While 2015 shows only a slight uptick in the percentage of people interacting with native ads, advertisers are encouraged to see this upward trend. Consumers are not rejecting sponsored content.
MOST COULD NOT RECALL THE LAST SPONSORED ARTICLE THEY READ AND WHO IT WAS SPONSORED BY
Last year’s survey revealed that the majority of Internet users could neither recall the last sponsored piece of content that they had read, nor could they remember the name of the sponsor; the same generally holds true in 2015. These results should not be viewed as negative. Native advertising is designed to promote brand awareness in a subtle way and not intrude on readers’ enjoyment of the content that initially brought them to the site.
MAJORITY FIND MORE OR EQUAL VALUE IN A SPONSORED ARTICLE VERSUS A NON-SPONSORED ARTICLE
This sentiment illustrates users’ appreciation of ads that are relevant to their interests, indicating that consumers perceive native advertising as non-intrusive and conducive to a positive user experience.
MOST ARE WILLING TO CLICK ON SPONSORED ARTICLES; BANNER ADS FAR LESS APPEALING
Users are turned off by banner ads that tend to be highly distracting and often poorly placed throughout a site, creating a lousy user experience. The 2015 data shows that users are slightly less likely to click on a sponsored article than they were in 2014, perhaps because more users now recognize the markings of a sponsored article and purposely avoid clicking on an “advertisement.”
SIGNIFICANT MAJORITY NOTICE SUGGESTED LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF ARTICLES THAT ARE SPONSORED
One of the most common forms of native advertising is a link to a relevant article on a sponsor’s website. Suggested links will likely end in higher click rates to sites that offer similar content to the page that’s currently being viewed. This is good news for those who were unsure as to who bothers to scroll that far down the page and notice the sponsored links. The answer: Most of us.
MOST HAVE POSITIVE FEELINGS ABOUT SPONSORED CONTENT
The 2015 numbers uphold the findings from 2014, that consumers view sponsored content as a means to discover more high-value content about an area of interest.
NATIVE ADVERTISING GETS HIGH MARKS AS A “HELPFUL” FORM OF ADVERTISING
The response to this question reinforces the notion that links to suggested content at the bottom of the article continue to be well received by most consumers. The 2015 survey reveals an overall slight increase in the perceived “helpfulness” of other forms of native advertising, with “ads in search results page” taking the biggest leap.
2015 SURVEY AFFIRMS: NATIVE ADVERTISING INFLUENCES PURCHASING DECISIONS
2014 and 2015 numbers indicate that consumers acknowledge native advertising’s influence on their purchasing decisions. It’s important to understand that many people who have already clicked into an article about a certain subject are likely to seek out similar content afterwards, which is why native advertising can help boost consumer interest in a website or brand and ultimately result in a sale.
SURVEY AGAIN REVEALS SOME NEGATIVE SENTIMENT TOWARDS NATIVE ADS, BUT MAJORITY SENTIMENT IN 2015 IS POSITIVE OR NEUTRAL
This is a critical question to address when considering a native advertising campaign. While a small percentage of consumers do (and probably always will) have negative feelings towards native ads, the takeaway is that a large portion of internet users like, or do not mind being exposed to native advertising.
- As long as the advertisements are relevant and non-intrusive, businesses shouldn’t shy away from this lucrative form of advertising.
- Digital marketing firms and all businesses are highly encouraged to experiment with multiple forms of native advertising. It is best to first understand the target audiences and find which type(s) of native ads work best for each group.
- Perceptions about online ads are changing due to the quality, relevance and subtle nature of native advertising. Native ads are more attractive to consumers than the “in your face” ads that were more prevalent in the past.