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Native ads growing in popularity (but marketers struggle to define them)

There is widespread support for native advertising amongst marketers, despite confusion over definition, according to new research.


The study, from Say Media UK, sampled advertising and media professionals from across the UK, with the intent of establishing the market’s understanding of the term Native Advertising.

It is clear from the research that while the bulk of the industry is “all for” Native Advertising as a format, there is still a considerable lack of clarity surrounding what the term actually stands for.

Although 88% of respondents felt that it was something that “should be on every brand's digital media plan by 2019”, only 28% felt they were “knowledgeable” about what it actually was.

This was further highlighted by the disparity between what respondents actually believed Native to be, with 42% of respondents stating “Advertorials” and 40% citing “in-content ad formats”. However, just 26% thought Native included branded content.

This lack of clarity was brought further into the spotlight by the fact that 36% of respondents said Native spend came from their display budget, with only 9% allocating dedicated budget to Native.

If more proof were needed, 52% of respondents stated that a lack of “definition” was the “biggest obstacle to the growth of Native advertising”.

Commenting on the survey results, Carla Faria, Director of Solutions and Content Production (UK) at Say Media, said: “There is so much debate right now around the subject of Native Advertising: should advertisers be carving out budget for it and if so to what extent? But the degree of hype around Native is masking the fact that there is no singular definition for it. While on the one hand anything with the word 'native' in its name must mean that a degree of effort is being made to ensure that the reader experience is a more fluid and intuitive one, unless the nomenclature is clear and common across all users, measuring what works against what doesn't becomes a huge challenge.

"As the market bifurcates ever more starkly between standard brand advertising and integrated content marketing, there has never been a more important time either to take a stand and clearly commit the 'Native' tag to one type of activity over another or to simply lose the tag altogether."

About the survey

The survey sample includes 150 executives from across the ad tech, media and marketing spectrum. Respondents were presented a series of questions around what they though Native Advertising was and where it stands to be in the future.

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