Gone are the days of traditional advertising, the new mobile frontier is demanding that consumers and advertisers shift their online habits to the smaller screens of handheld tablets and mobile devices. While the explosive growth of digital media over the past decade has created an incredible advertising opportunity for organizations across all market sectors and geographies, it has also resulted in a tidal wave of digital noise with which advertisers must find a way to effectively compete. The increase in digital advertising spend over the last year shows just how far many brands will go to keep their heads above water.
According to recent research issued by the IAB, Internet ad revenues hit record-breaking double-digit growth, reaching nearly $37 Billion dollars in 2012. Also, for the second year in a row, mobile as a platform achieved triple-digit growth, surging 111% to $3.4 billion. Indeed, the market potential of mobile advertising is huge, and advertisers are constantly searching to find new ways to reach consumers in a contextually-relevant manner both for the emerging devices and for the publisher content it surrounds.
One of the factors that has catalyzed growth in the digital advertising sector, and the mobile sector in particular, is native advertising, which offers seamless integration between ads and the aesthetics, user experience content of the websites or applications that run them. Since early 2012, these native ads have been cropping up everywhere, from news websites to Google to Facebook. Indeed, for social companies like Facebook and Twitter, native advertising could prove the secret ingredient required to monetize their mobile applications - a problem over which shareholders and market speculators have been fretting since the moment Facebook IPO'd.
The emergence of native advertising solutions holds much promise in this regards, allowing advertisers to serve branded ads and experiences in-line with the article on a page or in the content streams that populate publisher sites. With nearly 110 million mobile smartphone subscribers and 30 million tablet users in the US, consumers are accessing content anytime, anywhere. As this trend continues, every publisher invested in mobile needs a more comprehensive monetization strategy that better addresses the unique consumption patterns of mobile users. It is not enough to simply apply the old ad formats from the web to mobile. Today, savvy publishers are going deeper to create engaging ad experiences for consumers.
While the first phase of native advertising focused on creating incremental improvements like the introduction of in-stream advertising and sponsored posts, the second phase drills deeper into creating branded sections on publisher sites like Forbes' Brand Breakthrough. I argue that the next phase of native advertising will be focused solely on building long-form content on mobile peppered with thoughtful and intentional product placement. This is the future of the ad industry and we had all better begin looking toward this new format to preserve the longevity of the industry.
When you glance at your mobile screen, what captivates you to continue reading and what inspires you to click through? Elegant design and an integrated experience demands your attention and I believe that native advertising will be the format of choice to drive engagement and keep consumers interested in learning more about a brand. When coupled with device services like geolocation and Passbook, the possibilities are endless. Are you ready?