You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks digital is overrated or unnecessary anymore, and in the next few years, we'll be saying that about native advertising. Native advertising is any type of branded content that appears in line and matches the organic content that surrounds it, allowing brands to interact with consumers in a natural setting ' to be part of the conversation rather than interrupting it. It's really at the core of a shift in how people think about brands: Is this brand valuable to me if I buy their product/service? vs. Is this brand valuable to me? Some, including Mashable, argue that the biggest driver of native advertising was the creation and proliferation of the feed. Remember when Facebook launched the News Feed in 2006 and people completely freaked out about it? Eight years later, that's my first and often only stop on the platform. Twitter, Buzzfeed, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn ' all feed-based. This is how users are now digesting and interacting with content, and therefore this is where advertisers need to be. Native advertising can come in many different forms, and IAB does a great job of breaking them out for us according to the following criteria: Many of the different types aren't necessarily what come to mind when we think of native ' things like paid search and promoted listings. It's something for all of us as marketers to really consider ' brands are already likely engaged in some of these, which are not only established but essentially required. So it's not such a leap to dive into some of the more custom, interactive and even user-generated types of native ads. In fact, this may be the key to help educate clients about some of the more custom native ad opportunities. Working in new channels is always a challenge, especially when success can be difficult to nail down, but the value is clear, even if measuring success may not be. And not to get all 'Purchase Funnel'? with you guys, but when brands are looking to achieve awareness and consideration among their target consumers, that's where I believe native is a clear choice. In a relatively cost-effective way, brands can show personality. Not every brand has a Geico-sized marketing budget to achieve these things via TV spots. In my opinion, the most exciting part is the creativity that native invites. It gives brands permission to poke fun of themselves, to make themselves the heroes, and do it all with a focus on the consumer. Good content is good content. Consumers are hungry for it, and when brands provide it, they can reap the benefits. According to HubShout, 72.8% of consumers find equal or more value in sponsored articles compared to non-sponsored articles, which speaks volumes about the ability to build trust with consumers through relevant, useful content. When consumers see a brand as generous, as a brand that offers value to them, that positive connection is immensely valuable. Native advertising invites an exciting opportunity for brands and consumers ' let's take advantage of it.
As a full-service agency, AMP knows a lot about a lot of things. So, we asked AMPers to share their thoughts on the most monumental moments in their respective capabilities in 2013. Read their insightful thoughts below. Search: Google Hummingbird In 2013, Google released a major search algorithm update for the first time in a long time, making it the most monumental change to happen in Search within the last year. The algorithm update, called Hummingbird, focuses on understanding a searcher's intent rather than the keywords they've used. By better understanding a searcher's intent, Google can present more relevant search results to the user, which has always been the end goal. In addition, Hummingbird is designed to better understand synonyms, long-tail queries, and full on questions such as, 'How do I sew this hole in my pants?'? While Google says that brands will be unlikely to notice a shift in rankings based on the Hummingbird update, this change is monumental in that it gives search marketers fuel to focus on several opportunities moving forward, including: long-tail & keyword synonym targeting, onsite content expansion to address new queries, and optimizations for the mobile web to better target long-tail queries entered via voice command. The release of Hummingbird will help search marketers drive home the importance of high quality content creation, which is a priority for AMP. Display: Programmatic Buying Display advertising is dynamic and constantly evolving. One of the largest shifts in 2013 was the adoption of programmatic buying. Programmatic buying allows for auction-like buying of a specific audience by analyzing a multitude of data points to decipher the right ad, the right person, the right time. Although programmatic was not introduced in 2013, it sure caught on this year - changing how media planners purchase their media. Whether purchasing programmatic through a partner or directly on platforms such as Google Bid Manager, it's estimated that 28% of 2013 US ad spend was on RTB according to eMarketer, Measurement & Analytics: Integration The moves by big web analytics vendors to provide a holistic view of digital marketing channels was the biggest change in measurement and analytics. This shift allowed marketers access to a range of features and solutions that helped to tell the integrated online story. Google released Universal Analytics out of beta. Universal Analytics utilizes the new Measurement Protocol to process disparate data. The Measurement Protocol allows integration of data from website, apps, web properties, ecommerce, and offline logged interactions to be tied together. This takes Google Analytics from being a web analytics tool to being a business intelligence solution. Adobe has also made strides in integrating data sources through the Adobe Marketing Cloud, available to all advertisers in 2013. The Adobe Marketing Cloud encourages users to use all the solutions available through Adobe for a more holistic view of marketing efforts, not just the Adobe Analytics (formerly SiteCatalyst). Social: Native Advertising Going into this year, we talked about what social would mean for brands. The key takeaway of the POV was that at its core social is about telling stories. This statement underscores the way the landscape shifted over the past year. While we anticipated a shift toward monetization, the most monumental change was how that monetization took shape in the form of sponsored stories/posts. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram all introduced sponsored posts that seek to provide maximum value to both brands and consumers. Overall, 2013 was the year of personalization. According to our VP of Account Management, Pamela Neville: The most monumental change I have noticed this past year is around targeting and messaging. From Facebook paid ads to email to display, I am constantly impressed with a brand's ability to target me personally with products I actually want to buy. Nordstrom and Zappos come to mind from a re-targeting perspective. And, Nike comes to mind from an email/CRM perspective. They each have a knack for bringing me back to their respective sites and cross-selling or up-selling me various products. I care less about the invasion of my privacy and rather value the speed with which a brand can get me from awareness to shopping cart. Now that you know our thoughts on 2103, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming post on advertising and marketing predictions for 2014. Blog Post Contributors include: Michelle Gilbert, Christina Wong, Andrew Ricker, Rachel Lawton and Pamela Neville.