Native advertising is still misunderstood: Andrew Burke, APAC MD, Outbrain

Burke was in India to launch the Outbrain Academy for Clients in India

by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published - Nov 13, 2018 8:30 AM Updated: Nov 13, 2018 8:30 AM
andrew burke

After bringing the Outbrain Academy for Agencies to India in 2017, the native advertising platform has introduced the Outbrain Academy for Clients in India this year.  The first session was held in Mumbai recently for a select group of clients.

Explaining the need for a programme of this kind, Andrew Burke, APAC Managing Director, Outbrain, said, “The dynamic of the industry is such that it moves so quickly. Demand on agencies and publishers is such that we have to continually be in the marketplace helping our partners understand how to leverage the platform to get the most out of it.”

“So conducting these sessions is a great opportunity to not only showcase all that Outbrain has to offer as a platform but help all those who leverage it to get the most out of it to deliver the sort of performance that they are trying to achieve. We want to present a transparent understanding to the clients,” he added. 

In the APAC region, native advertising marketing is estimated to be worth around USD 50-60 billion. Burke said he is seeing slower growth in India than in other markets. “But it seems to be picking up. We think India is a huge opportunity for us,” he said. Although native advertising is still a small part of the market, Burke believes “the reason we exist and we are successful is because marketers are looking for options.” He adds, “We certainly do not feel that a digital marketing strategy is complete with just Outbrain. What we want to move into is to be an always considered part of any marketer’s plan and to work in conjunction with other players.” 

Burke spoke to exchange4media on the sidelines of the launch of the Outbrain Academy for Clients.

Edited Excerpts: 

What was the necessity to launch this academy?

Educating the market is a very critical role for us to play. Whether clients are buying the tools themselves or not, we want the clients to understand what they have at their fingertips and what they can do for their brands.  Some advertisers are taking parts of their media initiatives in-house.

Once equipped with the Outbrain Certification for Clients, do you expect more clients to take the Outbrain function in-house?

To each his own. I feel if there is a specific reason a brand wants to take a particular part of their marketing strategy and manage that in-house because that works better for them, we want to be sure that we can support that. At the same time, it is a good option for these businesses to have.

Because there may be some elements of their marketing strategy that they do want to control in-house. And for others, they can rely on their agency partners. These academies and sessions give clients the choice to truly understand whether in-housing is truly an option for them. 

What do you think is holding clients back from investing in native advertising? 

In some ways, native advertising is still misunderstood. It is still nascent and is a rapidly growing part of the overall marketing activity. What we are seeing though is more success which is coming out of native advertising, particularly at the performance level. As brands and businesses get better at pinpointing exactly what it is that they are trying to derive out of any activity or any dollar they spend, native is becoming more and more reliable platform to execute on. 

Why do you say native advertising is misunderstood? What do you mean by that? And what’s next?

We are continually battling a display mentality. For example, brands mark viewability as a metric that defines success for them. At a display level, viewability is a high and important metric, but it is not so important for native. That’s why these academies are so important because we need to educate the market as to why viewability is not as important in native while other metrics are significantly important to us. 

What’s next in native advertising from Outbrain?

Non-social feeds are coming up. Outbrain’s Smart Feed turns the web page into an endless stream of content. The publisher integrates direct-sold campaigns into native ads while mixing it up with editorial and video content. The reader continues to scroll, instantly delivered with targeted native ads that match their interests.

The beauty of the Smart Feed is that it integrates native ads with the scroll experience, which has become an integral part of the way people behave online today. Most of the time online is spent on a mobile device. The screen is small, and we touch-scroll to get the information we want. In fact, 22 per cent of mobile users scroll to the end of the web page, no matter how long it is.

Once, we would mindlessly flip the pages of a magazine till something interesting caught our eye. Today, we scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll…until we find content we love. That’s the genius behind native advertising on the Smart Feed – the scroll that goes on and on.

What are the metrics that are important to native advertising? 

Engagement for one; it is a very important metric for us and we are focusing on attention as the new currency. We are very focussed on delivering a great experience for consumers so that it enables us to help support our publishers whether they are trying to drive subscriptions or deeper engagement into a publication or another publication within the network or whether it is simply them trying to bolster revenue.

There is a great role for us to play in delivering highly engaging content/promoted ads/other recommendations that enable users to come into a property and have a great discovery experience. 

And finally, please tell us why are online marketers increasingly turning to native advertising now?

Native advertising works. Consumers look at native ads 53 per cent more than display ads. Native ads create an 18 per cent increase in purchase intent, and the visual engagement with native ads is the same, and even slightly higher than the original editorial content. Native advertising fights ad fatigue.

Ad fatigue is what happens when the audience gets bored with seeing ads. After a while, they simply stop paying attention. Native ads are brand exposure cloaked in editorial content, so they don’t tire out the audience. As long as the content is relevant and interesting, native advertising engages the audience.

Consumers know that native ads are a form of advertising, but they don’t care! In a recent study at Stanford University, researchers found that native advertising fools nobody. Consumers are well aware that they are viewing a form of advertising. However, native ads still have a significant effect on purchase behaviour.

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