Does Native ‘Perform’? Sharing Metrics Advertisers Understand

Does Native

As publishers are clamoring for solutions to offer more native ad inventory, their reasoning makes sense, intuitively: Native performs better, because users can consume it seamlessly along with content.

But try telling that to advertisers in so many words. Advertisers have long been skeptical about the metrics behind stories of superior native “performance.” And why shouldn’t they be? They’re paying top dollar for it.

Well, Jumpstart Automotive Media recently reached out to AdMonsters with some stats intended to settle advertisers’ native worries. The automotive marketing company kindly shared some telling metrics on its native units developed by an in-house creative team.

Jumpstart trumpeted engagement rates as high as 96%, video completion rates of 55%-85%, and (in the case of one native unit) click-throughs 8-10 times higher than instances without the same sponsor call-out in the link. Those are the kinds of numbers you’d want to show off to advertisers, right?

So here’s how it worked for Jumpstart: Jumpstart targets on contextual relevance to page content. The company’s clients were some leading auto manufacturers. So, if the user is researching an auto brand, Jumpstart will try to serve them a native ad (compliant with IAB LEAN, by the way) that can expand to reveal additional brand information to complement what the user is already reading or watching.

The ads were placed on websites in the auto vertical or adjacent to it (insurance or accessories would be adjacent, for example). Some units included rotating headlines and photos, meant to generate more engagement.

On a buying guide, the ad might appear alongside content, a more discreet placement for an ad that looks like content. If an advertiser brand has sponsored a category of a website, a photo of one of its vehicles would appear where its category icon would have been. (This is the unit that netted up to 10 times the clicks than a standard header.) If you want to take a look, check out examples like this one or this one.

The FTC has been clear about providing disclosures to differentiate native ads from editorial content. When AdMonsters spoke with Jumpstart’s VP of Audience Development and Ad Product, Aaron Serrao, he agreed compliance with the FTC’s native guidelines was a good thing. Compliance respects why people do consumer research on third-party sites in the first place, and it respects the integrity of editorial.

Jumpstart’s native units appear in gray boxes (recommended by the FTC and other consumer rights groups), with the disclosure tag “Provided by [brand]” (which is not one of the FTC’s recommended disclosure terms, but is a disclosure regardless).

Sounds great for the user, but there’s always the challenge of passing the numbers back to the advertiser. Like, what does “engagement rate” even make up, anyway? Serrao explained that while advertiser still get hung up on clicks, Jumpstart wants them to look at metrics like time spent, video length, video completion and shares. And that means it’s also important to communicate back to advertisers how engagement is relative to the nature of the creative.

“Brands are running a mix of short-and long-form video,” he said, “and across the board, shorter form (30 seconds or less) videos are seeing higher completion rates.

“Of course it’s not too surprising that a longer commitment might mean an increased likelihood that engagement will drop off a bit,” he explained. “However, even when we’re seeing completion rates drop to 60% for videos that are sometimes five minutes or more in length, that’s still very successful.” And in many cases, he said, it’s beyond what brand clients expect.

Native typically offers more to the user than standard display, and there’s some trickiness involved in parsing out all that a native unit can offer, deciding how to measure it, passing that measurement along to the buyer, and explaining what they’re seeing. But for any publisher moving into native, it’s going to be crucial to explain it, to continue reaping the benefits.