Marketers in APAC should embrace native advertising on mobile as a means to maximize both their return on investment and customer engagement rates.
The current mobile trend is one of the most far-reaching the Internet industry has seen. The penetration rate of mobile Internet in the APAC region is impressive: about 74 percent of the total population in Hong Kong accesses the Internet via mobile phone, and about 63 percent in Taiwan, and these numbers continue to grow in local markets as well as globally. By 2017, there will be an estimated 3.8 billion mobile devices connected online across the world, more than double the number today. People rely heavily on their smartphones, with an average of 9.8 daily online activities done on mobile, such as emailing, reading news, searching for information, and shopping.
This thriving trend indicates that brands should capitalize on mobile to engage with people on the go, throughout the day, via smart, integrated, multi-channel advertising, as people are now spending more time on the Internet via their smartphones.
Display ads on a PC are like stickers around the content, while native advertising is a non-intrusive ad format native to its environment. For most purposes, native advertising can be a very powerful way to reach audiences online.
Personalized and engaging experiences are delivered by native ads, as they appear seamlessly and naturally across PCs, mobile phones, and tablets, with a notably more remarkable effectiveness on mobile. Research shows that after seeing a native ad, a user is 3.6 times more likely to conduct a brand search and six times more likely to run a related search versus after seeing a display ad. And native promoted articles are the first thing consumers notice with very high fixation; they are consumed in the same way people view editorial content. Native ads can effectively provide useful information and bridge the gap between content and advertising.
A growing number of advertisers are coming to believe in the effectiveness of native advertising, with 63 percent of brands judging it could increase consumer engagement. Industry demand is also expected to rocket this year, with a strong 122 percent growth anticipated in native or social media ad spending in 2014, according to eMarketer.
That's the big picture. Now let's take a micro view to understand what native ads really mean to brands. We can look at two cases that have achieved outstanding results from adopting native advertising on mobile devices.
Tatcha built its business by selling prestige skin care products through upscale channels such as Barneys New York. Luxury brands have not traditionally followed an online direct-to-consumer model, but, believing beauty should not be a secret any more, Tatcha saw a great opportunity to grow their customer base with native advertising.
Their native advertising campaign integrated product information into Yahoo's Web content, blending in the news stream on the front page with a similar format across platforms. The native ad had a stimulating image associated with beauty, instead of the product. Customers who were new to the brand responded well to the embedded messages that the Stream Ads, a type of native advertising, offered. After a month of Stream Ads, 175 percent more impressions were generated when compared to Tatcha's social media ads, together with 125 percent more clicks. Customer acquisition also exceeded expectations and a significant portion of Tatcha's online business is now attributable to the Stream Ads placed.
RawBuzz's mission is to help people take their fitness and wellbeing seriously. To promote its own sales health, the online retailer of organic food and nutritional supplements was looking for a way to attract more customers to its website. The idea of Stream Ads appealed to them, as the brand could appear directly, and "natively," within the content their target customers would be most interested in.
RawBuzz's Stream Ads have appeared across Yahoo more than 4 million times in a 30-day period. This translated to 200 percent more clicks, or 30 percent higher site traffic when compared to other online advertising means.
In Hong Kong and Taiwan, native advertising is taking off and becoming much more widely accepted by Internet users. In today's increasingly competitive consumer marketplace, going native is much more than a holiday catchphrase - it means business for astute marketers. It is imperative that brands engaged in mobile marketing strategy explore native ads as an integral part to maximize both return on investment (ROI) and customer engagement.
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Erika Wang is the vice president of Sales Group for Yahoo Taiwan & Hong Kong and managing director for Yahoo Taiwan.
She joined Yahoo Taiwan in 2010 as general manager of the Sales Group, leading her team to focus on targeted advertising, social marketing, and mobile advertising businesses. Under her leadership, she brought in massive revenue for display advertising and search marketing advertising and created exceptional growth success, leading the sales group into the media business in Taiwan and achieving double-digit growth targets.
Erika has more than 20 years of solid experience in a variety of disciplines ranging from advertising to marketing and operations, with superb knowledge of the sales channel environment, consumer trends, product development, distributor management, and the media environment.
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