Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea?

Native video advertising is a fantastic new form of ad that blends in seamlessly to the user experience; the user opts to view the ad rather than having it autoplay for them. This is being touted as revolutionary; I don’t get it.

Running through my Facebook feed over the past few months I have been finding a growing number of updates from brands that I am NOT following. It seems as though Facebook are attempting to slide them in quietly as though they are just another update from a friend.

Although these ads are labelled as ads, it is not very clear:

Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea? image Facebook native ads1Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea?

This is what is known as a native ad – the idea is that it is contextually relevant to me and can just fit in with my other content seamlessly and improve my user experience and at the same time give brands some highly relevant advertising opportunities.

See the little “sponsored” at the bottom. Well, grab a magnifying glass and take another look then…

Native ads are contextually relevant – is this ad relevant to me?

Well – I am not in need of a new website, so no. But I was in Japan when this screenshot was taken so the Japanese language does make sense, but that is just geo-targeting.

It is more the contextual aspect that I am interested in; i.e. why did I see this ad? Perhaps because I am a business owner and business owners need websites? I am happy to watch relevant videos, regardless of whether they are advertising or not but they have to be of current interest to me.

If this is native advertising then I am not very impressed – basically a gatecrasher trying to shuffle into your wedding party.

With Facebook it is just not effective, same with Twitter – the platforms do not yet offer the advertiser enough data in order to make the targeting really tight and at the same time for the user the ads just stick out like a sore thumb and are definitely not something that I am going to click on.

People want social networking to be just that; these ads are an interruption even if they are called “native ads” which by definition is apparently not “interruption advertising”.

There is even a campaign against this form of advertising on Facebook

Native Video Advertising

There has been a lot of hype surrounding native video advertising recently, for example here and here.

Native video advertising is a little bit different, or at least is being pitched by some as different. The difference with native video ads is that the user actually chooses to watch the video as opposed to it auto-playing as a pre-roll ad for example, so depending on where a user finds the content it may/may not be appropriate.

For example if I searched in Google for “best lawnmower” then found myself on a review site that covered some of the best lawnmowers available and then at the end of the report there was a video ad for one of the mowers then I would probably be interested to watch it.

However – if it just popped up in my Facebook feed then I would probably not bother to watch it and may be annoyed that it were there.

Here is another example of how native video ads and other native content is being marketed – see the highlighted slots with a “presented by” intro:

Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea? image Screen Shot 2013 03 27 at 10 59 341Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea?

Native Video vs Pre-roll ads

Sharethrough (a native video advertising platform) teamed up with Nielsen Online Brand Effect to compare the effectiveness of its native video ads in affecting brand lift metrics like awareness, purchase intent and favorability with that of the popular pre-roll video ad unit, which plays automatically before video content. For the study, Sharethrough served the same creative message in both pre-roll and native advertising formats for all five advertisers’ campaigns, though the pre-roll ads were restricted to 15 or 30 seconds in length.

This info-graphic is a summary of what they found:

Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea? image Sharethrough native video advertising11Is Native Video Advertising a Self Righteous Idea?

I may be being a little resistant or pessimistic here but I am not sure that we are comparing eggs with eggs. Pre-roll video ads are perhaps one of the most annoying forms of advertising ever conceived – I suffer them as I want to see the content that I want to see, reach the 5 second point and the skip button is hit – every single time.

How did they measure the results?

Sharethrough worked with five large brands to serve the same creative message in both pre-roll and native advertising formats for each advertiser’s campaign.

All pre-roll ads were auto-play and were 15 or 30 seconds in length. All native ads were user-initiated, matched the visual style of the publisher page, and were a slightly longer version of the pre-roll

Nielsen Online Brand Effect measured brand lift and the campaign elements driving that lift (the report does not say how exactly).

With the report being funded by a company that run a native video advertising service it may come as no surprise to you that they found for all 5 advertisers the brand awareness and favourability increased.

So…. people prefer having the ability to choose what they watch rather than being forced to watch an ad; now that’s a turn up for the books.

Sarcasm aside; the idea of native video ads is a good one; that brands can be paired with relevant consumers through publishers that have the ability to accurately match make.

I could see this as being a service that Google are able to run through their Display Network but there are not many other ad networks out there with the network reach and data necessary to achieve relevance.

Once that changes we may actually start to see some interesting advertising opportunities emerging.

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