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Google’s swipe at native advertising: What advertisers and publishers should know

Native advertising can be amazing for your business. If you’re a speed reader needing an executive summary let me briefly say this: “Google Matched Content”, which is an attempt to remain relevant at a time when the market is pivoting towards native advertising, does not work for advertisers nor for publishers.

Before backing this up with a bit of substance, let’s look at definitions and a brief history of native ads. The definition I would attribute to it would be:

Native advertising, is a form of advertising where advertisers content blends in with that of the publisher in a manner that it bypasses any ad blocking, provides a direct link to the advertisers website which can be indexed by search engines and has the potential of a direct financial transaction between the advertiser and publisher.

 

The industry sought to pivot towards native advertising for several reasons, notably because:

  1. It cuts out the middleman since these ads are placed directly with the publisher,
  2. Link equity is built since publishers link directly to advertisers websites,
  3. SEM and SEO value is added since more organic results occur thanks to sponsored posts appearing in search results.

Google on the other hand sought to kill two birds with one stone:

  1. The rise and rise of outbrain and other solutions
  2. The rise of ad blocking (which is still not circumvented by matched content)
  3. To make il-informed marketers believe that buying into “matched content” IS native advertising.

Below is an example of how Outbrain has started to take significant pieces of online real estate away from Google, resulting in huge revenue losses:

Advertisers should know that according to the definition and benefits we seek to obtain from native advertising, that “Outbrain” is not classed as a native advertising solution either. Here is Google’s eventual response to Outbrain:

From the advertisers’ perspective, this is where we’re at:

The advertiser is still not bypassing ad blockers. It is not gaining any link equity because all links are diverted via Google doubleclick ad server. There is no control as to where your ads will be displayed and absolutely no direct relationship with any publishers. Is THIS what we’d like to call native advertising? NO. CMO’s should take note of this.

From the publishers’ perspective, this is what it looks like:

As you can see from the image above, other ad units have a CTR as high as 50%, whereas “matched content”, as the lowest of all. Note that during the A/B test process, ads were placed in the same position to make the results of the research objective and fair.

Key areas of interest you may wish to pursue next:

Publishers seeking to learn more about exceptionally profitable digital publishing can find out more with this course.

Advertisers who would like to get on top of the game with Google Adwords and Bing Ads should look at this course. 

 

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