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Verizon Media, which was formerly branded as Oath, has just rolled out new features for its Moments native advertising platform. Meanwhile, content recommendation firm Outbrain is expanding its capabilities by purchasing Ligatus, a fully owned subsidiary of Gruner + Jahr.

The developments are just two examples of how the native advertising industry is quickly growing as firms that operate content marketing platforms aggressively compete for market share. But, as it grows, some critics say the quality of native content, which is also referred to as sponsored content, is declining.

Content advertising is a hot topic in digital marketing. It involves providing, or trying to provide, valuable content, such as white papers, videos, and articles to build relationships with potential clients.

Native advertising is considered a form of content advertising. It involves paying publishers to display sponsored content that can also have a similar appearance to news articles. Like other forms of advertising, it can be distributed with programmatic marketing platforms in order to pitch content that is most likely to be relevant to individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Brands are increasingly embracing native advertising. According to eMarketer, brands were expected to have spent $32.9 billion on native advertising in 2018. That is expected to grow to $41.14 billion this year and represent 61.4% of digital advertising in the U.S.

eMarketer defines native advertising as display ads that follow the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which they appear.  

Firms such as Verizon Media are aggressively seeking to expand their reach. The company recently enhanced its Moments native advertising platform so that it can offer shoppable ads and allow gaming companies to demonstrate new games. It can also offer carousel ads that can even feature abandoned shopping carts, reports The Drum.

Verizon Media earlier this year announced that it was partnering with Microsoft to offer native advertising for the software giant’s MSN, Outlook and Xbox properties.

Outbrain, meanwhile, is seeking to gain access to approximately 1,400 media brands in Europe by purchasing Ligatus, reports AdWeek.

Upon regulatory approval, the acquisition would mark Outbrain’s seventh deal. It is part of the company’s strategy to consolidate the market and build a system that delivers non-interruptive ad, says David Kostman, co-CEO of Outbrain. In the U.S., Outbrains counts CNN as one of its clients.

Firms are also aggressively seeking to build new relationships with publishers. Taboola is just one example, having recently signed a four-year agreement with News Corp. Australia to provide native advertising and recommended content with the company’s publications, reports mediaweek. News Corp. content reaches 13 million people every month.

In this example, however, Taboola replaces incumbent Outbrain. Taboola has also recently inked a deal with Business Insider, reports Mobile Marketer.

In the case of Business Insider, the Taboola feed recommends content from the publisher that is then accompanied by video advertisements. Taboola also provides services for IBM’s Weather Channel and Tribune Publishing.

The biggest challenge to native advertising, however, is likely to be the quality of promotional content that brands produce as sponsored content. The Native Advertising Institute maintains that quality of content has been declining with the rise of native advertising.

In a blog, the organization argues that as brands get more involved with content creation, native advertising is losing its incremental value. The blog argues that collaboration between brands and content production needs to improve and the materials must be produced with the goal of creating trustworthy and authentic content. Journalistic principals in content production should also be followed.

The blog also features pointers from Melanie Deziel, founder of Storyfuel, about how to make compelling content. Deziel  is a former editor of branded content at The New York Times.

She suggests that content should provide instructions, such as for do-it-yourselfers, or other valuation information. It should be trustworthy and provide unique information, such as unusual details about a company or lessons that a company may have learned over the years.

Native content should also have a certain amount of tension, which can be achieved by addressing unresolved issues or topics, such as struggles within an industry. Content should also help create a human connection.

Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2019
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