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How to break into mobile native advertising

As marketers continue to look for new ways to develop mobile advertising, native advertising is catching the eye of marketers. However, understanding the right context and content that works with these nascent advertising models is tricky.

Even though many of the opportunities with native advertising are new, marketers have been talking about the limitations of mobile banner ads for quite some time. With the opportunity though comes significant challenges around native advertising, particularly around scale and blending ads into editorial content.

?For mobile, native unlocks advertising from a banner ? the banner might be a good advertising unit for desktop Web, but is very limited when striped down a space smaller than a stick of gum on a mobile,? said Douglas Rozen, chief innovation officer at MXM, New York.

?Additionally, mobile consumption is much more task-orientated, so banners can get in the way of the consumer's experience versus adding to their experience,? he said.

?Native advertising allows brands to go beyond the banner but places a greater emphasis on content to fuel consumer engagement. To be successful, marketers must have editorial mindset and consider how to create relevance based on context and content.?

Getting native right
Native advertising has grabbed the attention of the mobile industry in the past year. 

However, many brands are using native advertising just for the sake of using the technology.

For example, many brands push out native content that either does not run on mobile devices or is not built using mobile design best practices, per Mr. Rozen.

When it comes to mobile native advertising, cutting content to the bare minimum is essential.

For example, short and snackable pieces of multimedia and task-oriented copy works well.

Additionally, brands should look to leverage some of the unique qualities of mobile, such as location, when developing native advertising content.

?The opportunity in mobile is to overlay a consumer's location to further focus the content, not just trigger the placement,? Mr. Rozen said.

?For a CPG client, we tailor the content to whether they are in-store versus in-route to the store,? he said. ?In-store will be more promotional whereas in route to store will be more inspirational.?

Knowing your audience
According to Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, San Francisco, native advertising requires brands to move away from making blanketed media buys and to instead think about how the mobile experience intersects into a consumer?s life.

The idea here is to understand and own the exact moment that a brand is most relevant to a consumer.

For example, Pepsi?s Propel has worked with Kiip on mobile advertising initiatives that target consumers who are using applications such as MapMyRun and Nexercise and might be looking to refresh while logging their exercise information (see story).

Similarly, Campbell?s likely wants to own the moments when consumers are cooking, which correlates to reaching consumers within a recipe search app.

?The critical element is not treating native rewards as simply a rehashed banner ad that is popping up in your social media feeds ? it?s more than that,? Mr. Wong said.

?Moments for native rewards can be uncovered in any app, from fitness trackers to games to to-do lists,? he said.

?The key is identifying those entry points and creating an relevant native reward that lends itself to that particular mobile moment.?

New challenges
According to Bill Clifford, chief revenue officer at SessionM, Boston, brands should start with a simple, clearly-defined objective to test native advertising. This can include getting a consumer to watch or share a piece of content, for example.

Additionally, brands should test at least two different solutions to get learnings.

Even though native advertising offers brands big opportunities creatively, reaching a mass audience is still a challenge.

"In many cases, publishers are creating their own native solutions with their own set of creative requirements and ROI metrics," Mr. Clifford said.

"Operationally, it's a real challenge for agencies to deliver a campaign across multiple apps if each has their own creative and measurement standards," he said.

Native ads force marketers to develop for specific platforms with one type of user in mind and are often labor and time-limiting.

One of the biggest challenges going forward will be thinking about how to create content that scales, but is also specific enough to be tailored to consumers.

For example, Pepsi, Sauza Tequila and Cruzan Rum all recently launched mobile advertising campaigns on a new tool from Sharethough that takes a piece of content and matches it to the fonts and colors of a publisher?s mobile site (see story).

?In terms of the mobile native ad ecosystem at large, there is a huge focus on building scale right now,? said Chris Schreiber, vice president of marketing and communications at Sharethrough, San Francisco.

?With technology like real-time templating ? which Sharethrough developed to allow publishers to easily build and monetize native ads on their mobile sites ? we expect to see a massive growth of the available mobile native ad inventory over the next six months,? he said.

?While scale is less of an issue with mobile display ads, there are significant questions around the quality of their user experience.?

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York