Native ads are those ads that are not as intrusive as banner and link ads, and they are supposed to add value for the reader. Whether or not native ads enhance the reading experience for the user is up for debate, but The Atlantic has learned that good native advertising can definitely increase revenue. According to Digiday.com, the new native ads on The Atlantic’s website are seeing engagement times of almost five minutes, which more than doubles the normal engagement time that other sites experience. Publishers can learn a lot from The Atlantic’s native ads, but publishers should also be careful if they choose to follow The Atlantic’s lead.
An Increase In Revenue
In April 2015, The Atlantic redesigned its website and significantly reduced how much advertising users can see. The native advertising is found in and around content throughout the site, but it is not as prevalent as it used to be. Despite its lower profile, native advertising makes up 60 percent of The Atlantic’s digital advertising revenue, which is a dramatic increase. There is less advertising on The Atlantic’s website, but advertisers are willing to pay more because of how effective the native advertising has proven to be.
Why Is It So Effective?
A quick visit to The Atlantic’s website will immediately show why the site’s native advertising is so popular. The Atlantic has a staff of professional developers who create ads that are visually engaging and contain fascinating content. When users click on a native ad on The Atlantic, they are getting an experience they did not quite expect. That high level of ad development is what has helped The Atlantic to see a dramatic rise in native ad interaction and revenue.
Is Too Much Not Good?
According to AdPushUp.com, one of the big no-nos of native advertising is tricking your audience into thinking that your advertising is editorial content. But when readers of The Atlantic website were asked about the native advertising on the website, 47 percent said they thought they were reading real website content and not an ad. The Atlantic maintains that it marks its advertising clearly, but the ads are so comprehensive that they are tricking everyone into thinking they are content.
Will The Atlantic see a backlash from customers who are angry that they are getting tricked into reading advertisements? It may, but it seems unlikely given the fact that people are actually enjoying the native advertising, and even sharing it on social media. One native ad from The Atlantic got shared over 41,000 times on Facebook and that number keeps growing.
In the publishing world, perceived value is just as relevant as actual value. If The Atlantic has discovered a way to make its readers perceive that they are getting editorial content from its native ads, then there is a good chance that more publishers will follow suit. If what the Internet gets is a stream of interesting native advertising that people like to share, it is hard to see that as a bad thing for anyone.
If more publishers begin to follow suit and utilize native ads, will consumers begin to catch on? Will native ads continue to be effective if this happens?