Native versus ad network: Death match for dollars

BJ Hatcher

BJ Hatcher is account executive at Hacker Group

By BJ Hatcher

Did that headline drive you as insane as it did me to even write it? While headlines and content that create strong arguments in this way generate readership, they are fundamentally bullshit. I said it.

In an article postedMarch 10on Mobile Marketer, the reporter wrote that the rise in spending on native advertising was signaling the final days of the mobile banner. Not only did I immediately feel a rage-induced gas bubble forming, I felt the need to refute her hyperbolic position entirely.

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Not content with native
We all know the graphs that show that ad spend follows the consumers eyes. Yet, with mobile the money is still making its way over to the environment. It is a difficult journey. Unlike mass marketing and mass print campaigns that enable brands to tell stories, the banner does not offer much space. That is where native advertising is able to capture momentum and spend.

I fully support native ads. I like them, I use them, and I recommend them. As more brands make their way to mobile, many of the new dollars that make their way into the space may in fact shift toward native in greater volumes than banners.

That said, I do not know if the consumer will stand by all of these new promoted placements getting in the way of their daily content feeds.

The key, my mobile marketing friends, is to first know your campaign goals, understand your consumer, and build the best strategy. Do you need traffic to a site? Do you need sales, tracked or inferred? Do you need to relay specific information? Or, do you simply need to engage with consumers to make your brand top of mind?

Once you have a plan, then it is important to build a campaign based on your goals that includes native placements, banner placements, or a combination of both.

Here is why I think mobile banners are here to stay:
Innovation: With amazing ad network partners such as Millennial Media, AirPush, Conversant and Pandora, placement opportunities are increasingly impressive, native-like and impactful to your ROI.

Efficacy: Measuring a banner campaign in directly trackable ways still remains much more bullet-proof than many native placements that rely on brand-recall surveys. Not to discredit those metrics, it just depends on the components of ROI that matter most to you and your team.

Targeted: New developments in one-to-one targeting allow you to start with a known universe of consumers that you can track and measure independently of traditional digital metrics. Audience profiling does exist within both native and network, but networks still allow you to go find users while they are engaging across many platforms and in places you may not have expected to find them.

SO, WHILE THERE may be an alleged death match underway from certain hyperbolic journalists, in the real world, for those of us who actually develop real campaigns for real clients, it is all about campaign goals and strategies.

If you are getting the death match story from your agency or media partners, do not buy into it. Instead, come see me.

BJ Hatcher is account manager at Hacker Group, a Seattle-based digital and direct marketing agency. Reach him at .

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