According to new findings from the research firm, 49 per cent of online adults in Asia Pacific avoid ads on websites, and only 10 per cent read, watch or listen to them.
Interestingly, in markets such as Australia and Japan, more than half of respondents choose to avoid these ads, as compared to India and China where the majority of the online adult population pays some attention to website ads.
Clement Teo, Forrester’s senior analyst serving B2C Marketing Professionals, noted that as the avoidance of ads becomes more common in Asia Pacific as a whole, native advertising becomes a useful tool for brands to reach out to their customers and engage on a deeper level.
“While Asia Pacific marketers have yet to invest in native advertising in a big way, native advertising provides them with an additional avenue to better engage with customers and win their preference,” he said.
However Teo also highlighted a current lack of understanding of what native advertising really is, as well as limited in-house expertise to any kickstart native advertising initiatives.
“For many, it’s too easy and tempting to just create a single piece of content and then use and reuse it on multiple media platforms,” he said. “Content needs to be contextual and right-sized for both the medium and screen. Marketers need to consider their audiences’ needs instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach for native advertising.”
Teo added that native advertising is still in the very early stages in Asia Pacific and many publishers are just dipping their toes into this such as SPH, Mediacorp, Times of India and Inquirer.net.
“However, it is a good time to build an early rapport with these media companies as they work through their initial offerings,” he said. “This allows marketers to test and learn, and scale up projects quickly as needed. It also lets them understand the value that great editorial really brings.”
Teo added that native advertising is more engaging than display advertising and is also showing early success on consumers’ mobile screens.
For example, content marketer Contently saw a clear 10 per cent rise in brand opinion among its engaged subscribers, while Virgin Mobile USA claimed that native ads led to a 200 per cent uplift in the likelihood to consider its brand.
While effective, Teo also said it is important that marketers consider the risks of delivering inappropriate native advertising content.
“The key to success is in offering consumers not just a typical ad, but something that is relevant and adds to their experience, such as information on the amenities at a hotel chain for a travel site,” he adds.
In addition, consumers can easily sniff out digital advertising from genuine content. A loss of consumer trust can sting marketers and content publishers, if they are not up front about differentiating editorial content from native ads and fail to deliver engaging, valuable content.
“Hence, marketers should be judicious about the type of content they publish and the value it brings to their target audience,” he said. “As long as it enhances the overall experience of users, it will achieve its aim of driving brand engagement.”
Asked for advice to marketers just getting started on their native advertising journey, Teo said the first thing is to understand the craft of storytelling and your audience.
“Work with writers who can help you craft your story in context for the user segment and medium you're targeting,” he added. “Look at other brands’ efforts and see what you can learn from their efforts.”
One of Forrester’s recommendations to marketers is to tap into users’ “mobile moments” – with more brands are reaching users via mobile devices, Asia Pacific marketers no longer have an excuse to treat mobile as a stepchild.
Teo said the fundamental bit is in setting up the right context for native advertising on mobile.
“Advertisers should be asking themselves, ‘Am I interrupting the user’s newsfeed or am I adding value?’,” he said. “Advertisers need to get this step right first, and this entails a good grasp of the customer journey.”
Forrester has released a new report called Make Native Advertising A Part Of Your Content Marketing Strategy In Asia Pacific, details here.