Native Advertising and Europe's Lost Opportunity


While Context DSP announcement was April's fool joke of course (sorry Jaka), Andraž and me really were in London yesterday attending OMMA Native. We've decided to attend this conference based on the recommendation of our colleagues who attended an OMMA conference at SXSW last month in Austin. While OMMA Native London had some bright moments, it was far cry from its US siblings. The main takeaway Andraž and me got from the conference is that UK is several years behind US in this type of marketing and utter state of confusion permeates the space. I'm pretty sure the rest of Europe (including Slovenia) is even further away from understanding native advertising phenomenon, so I deem it necessary to start the discourse on the subject with a definition. Native advertising is a term invented by our investor and board memeber Fred Wilson a few years ago. It indicates a type of advertising that adapts to target media and it looks and feels like native to the media. My favorite offline example of native advertising are fashion magazines, where glamorous ads are integral part of the magazine value and actually one of the main reasons why people buy such magazines. The best online example of native advertising is search engine marketing where users of search engines in reality don't see the difference between paid and organic results, earning Google billions as a result. When Fred invented the native advertising term, he had in mind Twitter, Tumblr, FourSquare and his other investments that he encouraged to develop monetization methods native to them and not to destroy value of their offering by stuffing their service with banner ads.

What's important to understand about the native advertising is that native is mostly advantageous just to service providers, while it is mainly a hassle for advertisers who have to learn a new medium in order to exploit its potential to the fullest. The only reason that advertisers started caring about sponsored search, promoted tweets, and promoted content is because consumers shifted their attention away from traditional media and advertisers had to follow them to Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other myriad of services enabled by the rise of the web.

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