When native advertising took off last year, many viewed it as a nice idea that probably couldn't reach enough people to make it very important to advertisers.
Native, detractors might say, was nothing like real-time bidding (RTB), another innovation used to instantly reach millions of consumers with targeted ads via automation.
But the two worlds are coming together, giving native a chance to prove its detractors wrong. TripleLift -- a native ad-tech company which blends ads in with the cubed website layouts made popular by sites such as Digg and Quartz -- is today announcing an integration with five major automated ad-buying tools.
MediaMath, Turn, Triggit, AppNexus and The Trade Desk will now all allow ad buyers to purchase TripleLift's native ads through their platforms, giving the company's ads the scale and targeting which should bring the format a step closer to mainstream.
"Previously, you would need to have some paperwork agreement or contract or payment or insertion order in place with TripleLift directly in order to execute a native ad campaign," said TripleLift chief strategy officer Ari Lewine said in an interview. "Now, anyone who works with any major [demand side platform] can buy native directly through their technology partner of choice."
TripleLift is not the first company to sell native ads through these automated ad-buying platforms. Facebook, for instance, has been selling its native FBX ads through them for some time. And Sharethrough, another native ad-tech company, offers automated purchasing of its ads. But TripleLift will offer cookie-targeted ads across 800 websites, not just a single one as in Facebook's case. TripleLift reaches 200 million unique visitors in the U.S. each month, Mr. Lewine said.
Josh Jacobs, CEO of Omnicom Media Group programmatic agency Accuen, said the integration is attractive because it fits with advertisers' growing interest in using data. "The fact that the native industry is approaching this programmatic-first is hugely useful in that it aligns well with client strategies to leverage their data to make their marketing more targeted," he said.
Giving an example, Mr. Jacobs said a company like Hyatt would want to run different ads to business travelers and vacation travelers. Integrating with RTB should allow TripleLift clients to target their native ads to different audiences such as these, using cookies, not just content, to do so.
The integrations were completed last month, Mr. Lewine said, and spending from buyers is already at a run rate of multiple millions per year in aggregate. The spending is not guaranteed to remain at such a level though, given that advertisers are often willing to put money towards tests and then quickly pull that money back if the ads don't meet expectations.
"A number of our advertisers have explicitly told us that these are no longer tests," Mr. Lewine said, dispelling this notion while referring to some clients using a beta version of TripleLift's integration with the DSPs.
When asked if he plans on spending significant dollars on the new offering, Mr. Jacobs said he's still unsure but definitely intrigued by it.