Babar Khan Javed
Jul 10, 2017

Google takes on Outbrain with native programmatic

Taking the programmatic capabilities of AdSense to battle Outbrain and Oath, Google is now offering native ads with eligible publishers.

AdSense native ads can appear as (left-right) 'Matched Content', 'Native In-Feed' or 'Native In-Article'
AdSense native ads can appear as (left-right) 'Matched Content', 'Native In-Feed' or 'Native In-Article'

In a move that many media owners view as a ploy to sidestep the rise of ad blockers, Google has introduced AdSense Native Ads. The announcement came just around the time Verizon announced the merger of AOL & Yahoo to create Oath, a media company with access to over one billion native advertising consumers. 

"Google's late to party but yet a welcoming move," said Aamir Atta, founder of ProPakistani. "At a time when ad blockers are on the rise—for instance in Pakistan some websites get 30% of their ads blocked—ad companies must innovate to make ads more valuable for everyone, including readers, publishers, and the advertisers. That's the only way forward."

The new suite of ad formats is designed to appear within a user's feed, within a publisher's article, and (similar to what Outbrain offers) a "matched content" option that offers similar stories at the conclusion of an article. Advertisers have the choice whether to use all or some of the options within AdSense Native Ads, with the control in the hands of the publisher.

"Given that the suite of ad formats are designed to match the look and feel of a publisher site, this deception clearly violates the ethics purported by Google itself," said Danish Ayub, founder & CEO of MWM Studioz. "But it is a duopoly and advertisers should capitalise on this underpriced work around ad blockers."

Other attempts to sidestep ad blocking include branded content.  A report from Nielsen shows that brand recall and brand lift are usually higher with branded content than pre-roll ads. The report also concluded that brand affinity, purchase intent, and recommendation intent were also higher for branded content, which cannot be blocked by ad blockers, unlike pre-roll ads.

With a combined unique cookie database exceeding one billion, the market leader in native advertising is Oath (formerly Yahoo). The triangulated symbiotic relationship between Verizon, AOL, and Yahoo gives advertisers access to a direct and affiliate telecom database, cord cutters, and consumers of digital content across Yahoo's assets such as Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, and more.

Speaking to Campaign, Tim Mahlman, president of Oath, noted: "Oath as whole consists of 50 plus brands and technologies that are all coming together as one. Those combined entities create about 1.3 billion people that we are able to target against. So you are taking the best of two very strong companies and combining them into one, bringing that offering to both advertisers and publishers that truly makes us one of the top three media companies in the world. So that's one of the largest things that attracted us towards this deal."

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