Way back in 2008, Google bought ad platform DoubleClick for a reported $3.1bn. Since then, Google has become an online advertising powerhouse, generating over 96% of its revenues through advertising. At the time it was purchased by the search giant, DoubleClick was already leading the way in online adtech – offering innovative ad-serving and delivery methods to publishers and pioneering new methods of behavioural targeting.
Fast forward to November 2015 and Google has just announced that, via DoubleClick, it is debuting native programmatic ad sales. Publishers will now be able to sell native adverts, and mobile video adverts, programmatically via the DoubleClick exchange. The move will allow publishers to buy native ads across multiple screens with one purchase – and Google expects it to be a gamechanger.
So far native adverts (seamlessly integrated ads that disrupt the user experience as little as possible) have been a small – but rapidly growing – part of programmatic ad sales. In an environment coming under increasing pressure from adblocking software and facing resistance from online consumers, advertisers are recognising that they have to get smart. Most are coming to the realisation that consumers don’t want to be bombarded with generic ads that disrupt their online experience and which therefore lead to poor user engagement. Publishers are beginning to see that native advertising could be the solution for both problems – improving the consumer experience and generating greater ROI for advertisers.
What exactly is DoubleClick proposing? The new offering will mean publishers can make native ad units available for programmatic sales either through open auctions or private publisher-run marketplaces. Already available in apps, this new feature is going to be rolled out for cross-screen in the coming months. Blogging about this announcement, Google’s Jonathan Bellack writes that “mobile has reshaped the consumer journey from dedicated online sessions to hundreds of micro-moments where they turn to the nearest device for the answer”. Clearly the goal is for DoubleClick to offer publishers the chance to push native ads to these consumers at every one of these “micro-moments”.
eBay has been one of the first publishers to try out DoubleClick’s new native offering, and is pleased with the early results. Brian Brownie, Director of US Display Operations at the company, said that “this next phase of mobile delivery is a continuation of the effort” to bring “scalability to our native mobile programmatic offering”. Results just released suggest that this new adtech option has improved eBay’s user engagement figures by an average of 3.6% and has, in some cases, increased clickthrough rates by 5%.
Native coming of age?
In 2015, time spent consuming digital video has overtaken all other digital activities. Mobile video views are set to grow by a further 44 per cent in 2016; the Guardian has revealed that over 50% of its audience views its content via mobile devices. In the US, the Association of National Advertisers expects that 60% of publishers will increase their spend on native advertising in the next 12 months. Both campaigns in the 2016 US presidential elections, for example, consider native and social advertising as one of the key weapons in their arsenal – persuasive Twitter and Facebook content is increasingly seen as the best way to engage undecided voters.
All this activity presents big opportunities for established native adtech players like Sharethrough and Outbrain, as well as market entrants such as TripleLift and Nativo. Google’s move into this space is hugely significant: it not only signals that the native programmatic market is ripe for rapid growth, but simultaneously provides an offering that will help facilitate this growth. Programmatic native advertising is coming of age – and coming to a screen near you.