Bidtellect’s second quarterly report for 2017 again analyzes the billions of data points flowing through our Native Demand Side Platform (nDSP) to reveal important trends and insights into the Native advertising ecosystem for marketers. Several trends initially spotted in our first quarter report are now manifesting themselves more broadly and consistently than ever. This report focuses on these trends and their broader implications within digital marketing.

Broader Content Marketing Context

There is an exponential amount of content available online that consumers and businesses are increasingly seeking out. As consumers, we rely on valuable content to learn, educate ourselves and discover new things. The increase in these behaviors has made it more important that marketers view content consumption data through the broader lens of content marketing initiatives. By measuring the impact of these content marketing initiatives, marketers are able to make data-driven decisions that will ultimately lead to greater ROI on these efforts.

Highlights of Bidtellect’s Q2 2017 Findings

  • Cross-Device Strategy in Native is More Important than Ever
  • Measuring Engagement is More Valuable than CTR
  • Information-rich, Relevant Content has Highest Engagement

Importance of A Cross-Device Native Strategy

For the past four quarters, we have consistently seen that CTRs are higher on mobile than desktop. However, there is deeper engagement on desktop than mobile.

CTR by Device Q2 2017: Mobile CTR was higher than desktop by 65%

According to eMarketer, nearly four in five internet users worldwide will use a mobile phone to access the internet in 2017. Mobile is clearly the future of digital media and the way consumers choose to engage with content and brands. But although the consumer is already there, the experience has not quite achieved the same caliber as desktop. There is a clear distinction between how content renders on desktop versus mobile. For example, if you create a beautiful infographic, chances are, unless you have created a mobile-friendly version, the infographic will not render on mobile which will cause high bounce rates. In addition, the conversion path has to be seamless on mobile, otherwise, consumers will get frustrated and not complete the sale.

Native ad formats play a critical role in facilitating a better mobile experience. eMarketer also found that Native mobile will represent 64.5% of all US mobile display ad spending this year. By definition, Native offers an enhanced, more immersive content experience for users, so it follows that these formats would make a perfect fit for mobile environments. The small screens on mobile devices led to the advent and widespread adoption of the feed. In-feed placements match the form and function of the surrounding content within that feed, creating a nondisruptive, organic mobile experience.

Consumers have high expectations for their content and will only spend time-consuming content that offers a personalized experience with valuable content. The challenge is that the utilization of multiple devices and platforms gave rise to highly fragmented media consumption. Brands are responding to these expectations and inevitable fragmentation by creating and distributing content that caters to each specific distribution environment. This specialization is even more critical on mobile than desktop, where the experience is inherently less user-friendly.

Content Marketing Measurement

Many brands still struggle with how to measure the success of their content marketing and distribution strategies and campaigns. Some struggle with identifying the best metrics to use and some still turn to less sophisticated metrics such as CTR because that is what is the most comfortable.

Brands are creating content for their audiences for a variety of reasons, so before setting the metric, brands must set an objective. Are they hoping to achieve brand awareness? Downloads or signups? This is really important to identify beforehand in order to get the most ROI from content. There are a couple of things to take into consideration at the very beginning stages.  Why was the content created in the first place? What is the intention and target within the sales funnel?  We see that specific types of content targeted to upper, mid or lower funnel consumers won’t back into certain performance metrics. It’s like fitting a circle into a box, you can squeeze it in there, but when it comes out it will be wrinkled.

This quarter, 44% of marketers used CTR as a primary indicator of success, 37% used engagement and 19% conversions. Compared to Q1 2017, engagement is up significantly and conversions dropped.

Specifically, engagement increased from 23% to 37% and conversions dropped from 40% to 19%. While we recognize the importance of CTR for advertisers, there are additional optimization tools that are significant when analyzing engagement.  As a marketer, would you rather know if someone clicked on your ad or engaged with your brand on a deeper level?

Engagement by Category

In the second quarter, Technology, Travel, Business and Food & Drink were the top engaging content categories. During the summer months, Travel and Food & Drink content is highly sought after due to warm weather, summer BBQs and vacations.

Report Summary

The second quarter of 2017 saw a continuation and expansion of several key trends in consumer engagement within digital advertising.  Cross-device measurement and, importantly, the nuanced differences in consumer response and engagement on different devices is more critical than ever.  Advertising specifically tailored to device type and delivered natively is resonating the best with consumers compared to other strategies.

Importantly, measurement beyond CTR, and using post-click metrics as actionable intelligence, is taking on greater urgency than ever.  Consumers are showing a pronounced tendency to ignore ads in favor of paid content, not only because they are contextually relevant, but because overall they deliver a better user experience.

The broader implications of the second quarter data suggest a much broader context for Native advertising within the content marketing sphere.  It is essential that marketers view these data through that lens, as a successful content distribution strategy will lead to a stronger content marketing strategy.

Click here for reports from Q3 2016Q4 2016 and Q1 2017.

About This Report

Bidtellect’s Quarterly Native Report was created to provide advertisers with important insights and trends in the Native Advertising industry. Bidtellect’s platform processes over 5 billion Native auctions daily across 14 million distinctly targetable placements, and this number continues to grow quarter over quarter. We collect data from the start of an auction through post-click consumer activity including but not limited to the metrics captured in this report.