Defining and Mapping the Native Advertising Landscape, from Altimeter Group, the research firm, warned that it would take time for all parties involved to establish meaningful metrics and KPIs which, in the short term, could lead to doubts about effectiveness.
Over a longer period, however, it expected native advertising would become a powerful marketing tool for brands and that users would understand its intent and value.
Describing native advertising as an intersection of paid and owned media, Altimeter said the actual form it took depended on the media platform, whether traditional advertorial or promoted Tweets or sponsored stories on Facebook.
While many publishers believed that the concept was the same as sponsored content, Altimeter argued that "accompanying layers of digital complexities" made native advertising different from what had gone before.
A major problem for this particular approach, however, was identified as scale. Rebecca Lieb, digital advertising and media analyst at Altimeter Group and an author of the report, told Ad Exchanger that the issue was being tackled in two ways.
"The first approach is technology-based," she said. "Solutions from providers such as OneSpot and inPowered enable content to travel to publisher sites in display ad units."
The second was the development of a modular method. "Graphics, multimedia, copy – virtually all creative elements should be conceived of in a modular fashion so they can be broken apart and recombined in other channels and in other media for new executions, be they native advertising or content marketing," said Lieb.
The growing importance of the native advertising concept was highlighted by Twitter's recent purchase of MoPub, a mobile ad exchange. Kevin Weil, Twitter's VP of Product for Revenue, blogged that "we think there is a key opportunity to extend many types of native advertising across the mobile ecosystem through the MoPub exchange".
He subsequently told AdExchanger that "native ads that fit into the experience are great for users. And because they produce engagement, they mean better ROI for marketers".
Data sourced from Altimeter Group, AdExchanger; additional content by Warc staff