The benefits of taking native out of walled gardens: report

An eMarketer report presented at Advertising Week in New York predicted continued growth in spend on non-social platforms.

Spending to reach audiences within the walled gardens of social networks might soon be overtaken by the allure of buying space on premium publishers programmatically on the open market, according to a new report.

Presented at Advertising Week New York, the report was compiled by eMarketer in association with native programmatic company TripleLift.

Native marketing now makes up more than half of all digital advertising spend, but the leading trend was the fact that the fastest growth was happening off of the walled gardens of social platforms. Roughly three-quarters of spend is still going to social, but data recorded by eMarketer and TripleLift shows that spending on the open marketplace is growing at twice the rate of overall native spend. The growth in the first half of 2018 is predicted to be 19% higher than the baseline in 2016, and 28% over 2017.


The rates of native are rising, and the report predicts this will bring benefits to everyone involved. Publishers will see higher yields as demand for these placements increases, but brands can also expect higher-quality placements that won’t appear next to questionable content on social networks and have more transparency around performance and audience.

In terms of format, growth in video is predicted to continue to outpace image formats. Video currently makes up 26% of spend on non-social native advertising, a growth of 63% year-over-year. A big driver of this, the report says, is the rate at which outstream ads are being embraced. Outstream ads come in a variety of formats that tend to be more respectful, both to editorial content and the user experience, than the auto-play and viewability issues of instream and banner ads.

“Even television commercials, despite declining viewership, have continued to command higher CPMs than digital,” the report said. “And this CPM disparity may, in fact, be driving brands to look for new and creative ways to include sight, sound and motion online.”

native2Another benefit of native advertising’s growth is the fact that clicks are less relevant as a performance metric, and are usually only included when coupled with metrics based around attention. Eye-tracking data provided by Tobii (pictured, left) not only showed an increase in attention metrics for native over other formats, but it also found a 133% increase in actions driven by native ads, something eMarketer says its own data backs up when compared to banner ads.

The report also pointed out that the nature of native advertising, especially on non-social platforms, means it helps ads get delivered on the most popular devices (as content is simply served wherever the audience is) and greatly reduces the risk of invalid or fraudulent traffic (thanks to a direct-to-publisher relationship).

Looking ahead, eMarketer and Triple Lift predict most of these trends will continue, with a particular focus on improving the things that already help differentiate native ads on open platforms. Besides the growth rate in spending not showing any signs of slowing, the companies say advertisers will continue to focus more on attention metrics as native takes more of their spend, and more creative options will emerge to help capture that attention in a non-intrusive way.