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University of California boosts engagement using native ads

The University of California has been testing native advertising on online magazine source and has seen a strong response on social media with one story receiving more than 7,000 likes on Facebook.

Through the use of Slate?s internal agency SlateCustom, and native advertising platform Polar?s MediaVoice, the University ran a series called Breakthroughs, which aimed to raise awareness around research conducted on the University system?s various campuses. While native ads have been known to fit conveniently in between editorial content and not cause interruptions for the reader, Slate?s native programs have garnered encouraging results, while some campaigns have seen an average time spent per user of more than 3 minutes and up to five minutes on mobile. 

?As CTR on display and revenue from it declines, native ads are a great new source of revenue,? said Tony Vlismas, head of market strategy at Polar, Toronto. ?As the data shows, native is the fastest-growing digital ad medium. 

?Publishers love it because it?s additional revenue; marketers love it because it?s a new vehicle to share their stories; and consumers love it because at the end of the day, it?s good quality content. It goes full circle because consumers then share the article, which brings earned media back to the publishers, which further amplifies the story of the brand.?

Blending in
MediaVoice aims to seamlessly integrate with Slate?s CMS to pull custom content and then serve it using a double click ad-server, as well as a comprehensive set of reporting tools. These assets claim to allow Slate to drive more traffic through the execution of native distribution, view the response to these ads and see what is working.

By aligning branded and editorial content, feeds are more pleasing to the reader, and ads are less intrusive. 

According to Polar, native campaigns have yielded a 33 percent increase in CTR.

?The catch is to make it a piece of content that readers will want to click and share,? Mr. Vlismas said. ?It should be contextually relevant to the content around it, targeted to the same type of audience, and properly labeled so no one thinks they are being misled.?

SlateCustom claims to have delivered 100 million native ads in a 30-day span.

Seen everywhere
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf recently rolled out its largest advertising campaign ever focusing on traditional and digital platforms while supporting the role of mobile in consumers' everyday activities.

Social efforts native to their platforms include commissioned Vine videos, a custom Pinterest page, Instagram crowd participation photos taken through a ?purple straw? lens, sentiment-based online banners and Facebook advertising; and Twitter posts/hashtags via #purplestrawcam. As part of a brand investment strategy, the initiative also targets millennials through radio, outdoor, digital video, banner ads, and sentiment-driven social media placements that invite customers to ?Keep Cool and Summer On? (see story).

In May, Pandora tried out native advertising in its stations list for the first time, promoting stations from brands such as Taco Bell, Skechers, Bacardi, Sonos and Toyota in the area where users look for new stations they might like.

As interest in native advertising grows, Promoted Stations is an ad product that enables advertisers to promote their branded stations to listeners who are actively seeking a new listening experience. The idea is to enable advertisers to tap into music as a way to convey the sound of a brand and reach Pandora listeners directly (see story).

As native advertising becomes the new normal, consumers are appreciative and marketers will likely to see higher CTR.

?From a mobile perspective, native pretty much solves for mobile monetization,? Mr. Vlismas said. ?How often does a good quality banner make its way from desktop to mobile? 

?And even then how often does it get clicked? With native, it sits in the news feed so it effortlessly goes from desktop to tablet to mobile. 

?Over 40 percent of stories are consumed on mobile, and more and more publishers offer this news in a stream; a native ad looks very natural and gives the expected behavior to the reader, instead of an intrusive banner or pop-up.?

Final Take
?Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York