The online fraternity is witnessing the biggest platform shift in the history of consumer Internet. Mobile is increasingly taking centrestage. According to Yahoo, in this context, India is unique in several ways. However, one of the big challenges marketers are grappling with is to optimize their campaigns across devices. Mobile devices have narrowed the time between intent and action and it is playing a key role in the path to purchase in a consumer journey. This means advertisers are challenged to tell their stories across screens—and do it even more engagingly, for attention spans are getting shorter and consumer expectations, larger. As such, the need for a more personalized content experience and seamless advertising—especially native ads, which are embedded within content in a contextual setting—is being felt more than ever.
Yahoo is one of the largest publishers on the web. Breadth, depth and possibility are the key reasons why advertisers work with Yahoo. In this context, Gurmit Singh, Vice President & Managing Director, Yahoo India, talks about how far native advertising has come in India. Excerpts:
Where does native advertising stand today?
Today’s consumer is always connected and on the go. We see signs of this all around us – the office-goer texting on the sidewalk…the teenager who pauses to take and (instantly) share a selfie. The challenge and opportunity for every marketer is to engage this audience, staying responsive and relevant in real-time. Native advertising has emerged as one of the most effective ways to do this.
Given that Native Ads look and behave like the content around them – whether images, videos or text– they engage and become a seamless part of the user’s experience, increasing the likelihood that a user will interact with the ad – clicking or even sharing / reblogging. Studies show that users really notice native ads and want to click on them, because they are contextual.
Advertisers have come to find that when they communicate in a relevant, non-intrusive way, it drives deeper engagement with users, in turn becoming more impactful and delivering better results for their brands. According to a study Yahoo did in collaboration with Mindshare in the region, 80% of mobile users reported they were happy to click on ads in the native advertising format on their mobile devices, because these were not disruptive.
This success of native ads clearly demonstrates that blending in is the new standing out.
To share our own example, Yahoo launched Stream ads in India in 2014 (these are native ads which appear within the users’ personalized content streams). Since then, we have seen growing interest and a lot of excitement from brands. In just a year, over 300 brands have come on board as advertisers, because they are seeing the impact and value this format can deliver. We are seeing brands across the board – from FMCG to e-commerce, automobiles to financial services – harnessing the power of native ads for the tremendous value they bring, both to the user and the advertiser.
How far has it come, what has the evolution been like?
The mobile wave gripping this country and the response we have seen to native ads so far, convinces us about the potential and possibilities of native ads. In terms of evolution, we expect the appetite to grow, with advertisers seeing this format as a powerful tool in their arsenal, to engage their audiences and stand out in the clutter.
One of the things we have been doing – and this is key in the evolutionary journey –is to help brands understand this format, for maximum impact.
It’s not yet another display format. You have to blend in, to successfully stand out. So your content has to be aligned with the purpose, tone and visual style of the rest of the content on the page. (Beautiful visuals on a page call for native ads with visuals that are stunning!) Then there’s adding value for users. If they find the content matches their interests, they’ll read and share it, even if it is presented by a brand. And as importantly, you have to be transparent. Native content that is very clearly identified as sponsored, actually performs best.
How well is it working for Indian advertisers?
In the last year, we have seen a strong growth curve on native ads in India and sustained interest from advertisers and brands. We are seeing adoption across segments – whether ecommerce, FMCG or auto companies. Like I mentioned, just around a year since we launched Stream Ads, over 300 brands have come on board as advertisers in India. In India, native advertising is the fastest growing revenue stream for us.
In many ways, India as a market gives advertisers a compelling reason to look at native ads. This generation of new-to-Net users will likely experience the Internet for the first time not on a PC, but on a phone. We are seeing skyrocketing mobile adoption in India – native is just right for these always connected-users, fitting seamlessly into the interface, engaging and drawing them in with content that is relevant and in context with their in-that-moment mobile experience.