Nearly Two-Thirds of Marketers Plan to Increase Native-Ad Spending in 2015

But Native Remains a Small Fraction of Budgets

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Part of a native ad on the business news site Quartz.
Part of a native ad on the business news site Quartz.

Sixty-three percent of marketers plan to increase budgets earmarked for native advertising in 2015, according to a survey of 127 marketers by the Association of National Advertisers, or ANA, in the fourth quarter of last year.

Native advertising is a tactic in which digital ads mimic the editorial content surrounding them, whether that's an article, video or photo collage.

The ANA's findings, which also showed that 55% of respondents had increased their native ad budgets in 2014, supports earlier studies indicating marketers plan to spend more on the tactic. An eMarketer forecast, for instance, says that spending on native ads will reach $4.3 billion in 2015, a 34% increase over last year.

But native ads' share of overall marketing budgets remains relatively small. For 68% of respondents to the ANA study, native represents 5% or less of their budgets.

"The main benefit of native adverting is the ability to create extremely relevant associations between the brand and consumer via content," the ANA study said. "Given today's media landscape, where consumers can avoid ads more than ever, advertisers are looking for new ways to get their messages noticed and acted upon."

Media companies are introducing native-ad products to accomodate marketers and carving out creative departments to help brands create content, with an eye towards attracting more ad dollars. In many cases, they're able to charge more for these ads than most standad banner ads.

Marketers, however, seem to disagree with that notion, with just 19% in the ANA survey saying native advertising warrants premium pricing.

The practice has also drawn some controversy over how the ads are labeled and whether inadequate disclosures mislead consumers into believing an ad was really produced by a newsroom. The Federal Trade Commission even held a workshop on the topic in December 2013.

This hasn't been lost on marketers. Two-thirds of respondents to the ANA survey agreed that native advertising needs clear disclosure and an additional three-fourths feel that there is an ethical boundary for the advertising industry when it comes to native advertising.

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