LONDON: True native advertising is particular to a media brand and as such is not scalable, according to a leading industry figure who suggests that attempting to scale it shifts it into a different area altogether.

Tim Cain, managing director of the Association of Online Publishers, told Carat that context is a key element in native advertising, requiring an ad to be created in a style similar to the media brand in which it is appearing so the user experiences it as part of their normal experience.

"One of the challenges with native advertising is in its very purest sense it's something being created in a distinct way for one media brand," he said.

But when brands then tried to use that messaging on a wider scale, "it then stops being native advertising and it becomes branded content," Cain asserted. "For me when people talk about native scalability, I'm not sure it is scalable."

For him, "pure native is a one-to-one creation", requiring an ongoing relationship with a chosen media brand and the use of publisher content teams.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that the journalists are writing native advertising," he added, "but people in the publishing business who are au fait with the style of the publication … It's better to take advantage of the people at the media brand understanding their audience."

He cited recent AOP research to show how effective native advertising could be, with a "significant" average uplift to brand trust from native adverts compared to traditional adverts.

A third of readers were more likely to trust native advertising than traditional advertising, while three in five (59%) said native ads were "interesting".

Combining native and traditional, however, produced the best results, with a boost of 38 percentage points across key brand metrics when compared to native ads used in isolation.

Cain highlighted five vital elements in making native advertising work effectively: attraction – it must motivate a user to action; the brand should introduce itself early; the content itself needs to be interesting; brands should demonstrate their expertise on the topic area; it should be about discovery of the brand and not a hard sales message.

Data sourced from Carat; additional content by Warc staff