Do people love to hate native advertising? Research says no.

03 Aug Do people love to hate native advertising? Research says no.

Almost from the inception of native advertising and sponsored content, people fell into two camps: Those who hate it and those who love it.

The prevailing wisdom is that most consumers hate it. However, if consumer actions speak louder than survey words, most metrics indicate that people enjoy engaging with native advertising.

The Medium Is the Message

Native advertising is the logical extension of Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement that the medium is the message. In other words, where and how the message appears is as important – sometimes more important – than the message itself. Recent research documents the truths inherent in McLuhan’s observation.

comScore recently released a study that measures the effectiveness of advertising on “premium publisher” sites versus other sites. For the study, “premium” publishers were defined as “digital publishers whose brands have a direct relationship with the consumer and therefore are more likely to be household names.”

What the study found was that premium publisher sites deliver an average brand lift 67 percent greater than non-premium publisher sites. As important, ads on the premium publisher sites “are more than three times more effective in driving … favorability, consideration and intent to recommend.”

A second study, this one conducted for, found that “sponsored content, whether a social post, a blog or a video, is engaged with equally in comparison to non-sponsored content, when done the right away.” The emphasis is theirs. looked at likes on Instagram. The study found that likes on sponsored posts actually were greater than the average likes on non-sponsored posts. But here’s where it really gets interesting – the more followers a poster had, the more effective was the sponsored content.Markerly-Blog-Post

As this chart shows, there is a fairly even like rate for both non-sponsored posts and sponsored posts for those with follower counts between 10K and 250K. However, the numbers skew significantly toward sponsored content as follower counts get higher. In other words, this study reinforces the notion that premium publishers or, in this case , well-followed “premium posters” lend credibility and boost results for the advertiser.

This is huge.

When a local media sales rep goes out to sell a sponsored content program, they often are asked, “Why can’t I just put content like this on my site?”

The answer, of course, is the advertiser can put similar content on their site. Only it will not work as well. The research shows consumers confer the trust they have for well-known publishers on to the advertiser. Being on the newspaper’s website is the only way an advertiser can benefit from this trust.

Man Cannot Live By Click-Throughs Alone (Neither Can Women!)

According to Doubleclick, Google’s display advertising service, the global display ad click-through-rate this April was about 0.17 percent. That’s less than 2 clicks per thousand.

The corresponding research data on native click-throughs are all over the map. However, every published study we could find shows native outperforms display advertising by a factor of at least two to 10 times. A native ad produced for GE famously generated a click-through rate of more than 8%, an astounding 47 times the average for digital display ads.

Thus consumers are voting in favor of well-conceived native with their fingertips. While good click-through numbers are great, no longer are they the Holy Grail of digital advertising. Increasingly, time of engagement has emerged as an important measure of whether sponsored content actually is influencing consumers.

Many consumers spend more time with native than they spend with news. According to the Pew Research Centerthe average news story commands a time of engagement of about two and a half minutes. It is not unusual for the local native ads that Content That Works produces to engage readers for three, four or even five minutes … or more.

What does it all mean?

1.     If native advertising or sponsored content is original, interesting, helpful and engaging, your site visitors will like it, click on it and engage with it.

2.     Your local media site is the biggest megaphone in town. The very same content on an advertiser’s site or any other local site will not deliver the results or the brand lift that your site will.

As advertising goes, people love native.