Mastering the art of blending in: the future of native video

The past few years has seen a major shift in video advertising from blanket marketing to contextually relevant, non-intrusive ads.

Much of the change is owing to social media, with rising user demand for ads that don’t disrupt mobile newsfeeds, fuelling a movement towards ‘environmentally friendly’ formats across the entire online ecosystem.

Of course, this isn’t universal across social – to continue maximising their revenue per user, platforms such as Facebook are using a combination of native and mid-roll formats – but at present, the general consensus seems to favour a less intrusive approach. For instance, LinkedIn has launched a native offering to enable brands advertising on its platform to ensure their creative fits its surrounding content, and YouTube will axe its standard 30-second unskippable pre-roll format next year – even though it is yet to develop a specific native proposition.

So, this begs one key question: with social video becoming increasingly native, what does this mean for the industry?

The call for opt-in video

Video has long been a sizeable pillar of social advertising, currently producing 15% of global social revenue, and this isn’t set to change anytime soon. As consumption becomes increasingly mobile led, major networks such as Facebook have predicted that video will be their primary advertising focus within just a few years.

Yet, the form of video ads is evolving and there’s one key reason why: audiences want a less interruptive experience.

ads still frustrate users by interrupting activity

With preroll, most video ads fit the same mould; 15-30 seconds long and often inflexible about audience interaction — such as YouTube’s unskippable pre-roll. So despite video’s ability to engage, ads still frustrate users by interrupting activity, especially on mobile where small screens can make unavoidable ads more disruptive.

Consequently, demand for a better customer experience has seen brands modernise their video strategy and race to adopt native video.

By closely integrating with their surroundings – and aligning with supporting headlines – native ads maximise contextual relevance while minimising intrusion, thereby boosting the chances individuals will actively choose to engage. And the results speak for themselves; not only can native ads drive up to 82% higher brand lift — as compared to 2% for the same campaign’s pre-roll — but a study revealed 25% more consumers view in-feed native ad placements than display ad units.

Industry impact: what does the rise of native video mean?

While the shift to native may seem daunting, it only requires a small period of adjustment and will bring many benefits for audiences and advertisers alike.

Firstly, it is essential for advertisers to reconfigure the traditional video formula – it is no longer about creating a 30-second spot with a brand reveal at the end. Now brands should look to create short form ads with high impact opening sequences to quickly attract attention as users scroll past.

This, paired with a supporting headline for context, delivers an engaging, unobtrusive and contextually appropriate story, resulting in a better opt-in user interaction.

Secondly, there is the need to overcome misperceptions about social measurement. Historically, it’s true that the closed nature of some platforms has posed a challenge for performance assessment, making it hard to access data and gauge overall campaign success.

Yet, social measurement capability is evolving rapidly and it is now possible for marketers to leverage native-specific advertising tech that can measure performance in multiple areas. Moreover,  prominent social platforms are also striving to address this. Snapchat is working with Nielsen to provide more in-depth campaign reporting about both ad reach and viewability, and Instagram has also introduced the ability for brands to trace view counts.

Where is native video headed?

Native video is destined to grow, expanding and becoming more diverse. As dissatisfaction with intrusive and generic social video ads continues to swell — it’s expected 20% of internet users in the UK, France and Germany will block digital ads this year — so will the appeal of native as a format that adds genuine value to the user experience and offers a good return on investment.

native as a format that adds genuine value to the user experience

For similar reasons, advertisers and social networks will also explore new avenues of native application; capitalising on developing mobile augmented reality capabilities, live streaming, and 360-degree video to offer even more immersive advertising experiences.

It’s also likely that with greater demand for native formats, social platforms will extend their range of advertising options to outshine competitors. Snapchat, for instance, has already set the tone for things to come; launching its ‘Discover’ service, where advertisers can buy ad space by target audience and match creative for each campaign with defined themes. 

One thing we do know for sure is that the new age of contextually appropriate ads is here and native is not just a key element in the digital advertising repertoire, but the leader of the pack.

In the near future, we can expect to see the path set by social video becoming the new benchmark: non-intrusive, engaging content that works with, and for, digital users.

 

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