OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 07/15/2013 By Mark Glaser and Courtney Cowgill

OPA: Publishers offer more native ads

A large majority of premium publishers are heeding the call of the industry and offering up more and more native advertising options for marketers, according to a new study from the Online Publishers Association. The study, titled “Premium Content Brands Are Native Naturals,” used quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to gauge how the native ad boom is playing out with OPA members. The study found that 73 percent of OPA members surveyed are offering native advertising with the potential for that number to increase to 90 percent by the end of this year. Marketers are primarily using native ads to increase consumer engagement (81 percent), and 81 percent of publishers say marketers are using native ads to leverage the publisher’s brand. The study also offers up valuable data on a big question surrounding native ads: how to define native advertising. According to the organization, “members concur that the definition of native includes integration into the main site (93%), content running within the editorial stream (86%) and clear delineation and labeling as ad content (79%).”

That last item will be key for the success of native advertising. Especially considering the speculation that if the industry doesn’t do a good enough job of delineating native ads, the FTC could step in. The FTC has been careful over the years to update its guidelines regarding ads that look like content and recently updated online rules with both search engine results and endorsement guidelines. As Katy Bachman writes for Adweek, “The FTC has clearly laid the groundwork for digital native advertising even if it hasn’t yet issued any specific guidance or enforcement.” Pam Horan, president of the OPA, put it this way in Bachman’s piece: “Publishers and advertisers need to be extremely transparent; labeling is paramount. This is in the early innings, but ultimately, we should move toward some consistency.” Mary Engle, director of advertising practices for the FTC, tells Bachman, “Regardless of context, consumers should be able to tell what’s an advertising pitch, whether it’s an advertorial, an infomercial, word-of-mouth marketing or native advertising.”