Native advertising is continuing to see stellar growth, fuelled by high engagement rates and the success of native formats on mobile. While improving display advertising was native’s first priority, video is scaling quickly too, partly through the efforts of companies like Facebook and Twitter, but also as the ad tech players integrate their respective solutions. One such partnership is the one between PowerLinks, a native ad tech platform, and Unruly. Here Kevin Flood, CEO at PowerLinks and Kenneth Suh, SVP, Global Business Development at Unruly, discuss how they’ll be working together, how audiences perceive native, and the emergence of outstream formats.
Congratulations on the partnership. Could you explain how PowerLinks will be working with Unruly?
KF: The partnership will enable advertisers on the PowerLinks DSP to run native video campaigns across premium publishers on UnrulyX, where audiences will see native ads across all devices, served through native in-feed placements on home pages and in content streams.
The integration will allow advertisers to reach audiences with first- and third-party data targeting, keyword level context and 97 other data points.
PowerLinks is designed with learning and bidding technologies to optimize native ad performance and achieve engagement goals. We think this will provide a potent combination with premium native video on UnrulyX.
Could you provide a bit of background on how programmatic has changed how Unruly works with social video?
KS: Programmatic capabilities have increased ad effectiveness in two primary ways for Unruly. First, it has allowed advertisers to reach audiences at scale through advanced targeting. Unruly has its own DMP which allows us to provide complex targeting for our clients.
Secondly, programmatic has created an efficient way to boost the scale of our offering to buyers, and in-turn, boost revenues for our publishers. As UnrulyX has adopted OpenRTB standards, it has allowed a much wider group of potential buyers to access our native video inventory.
With branded content presented in a native environment, a common concern is that there’s scope for the reader to confuse branded content with the publisher’s own content. Is it fair to say there’s an even greater burden on companies like Powerlinks to ensure the right content is delivered to the right publisher?
KF: We believe that disclosure, context and quality of content is paramount for effective advertising, whether or not it’s native. Our platform is built for purpose in this sense; enabling brands to deliver content with keyword level context, making disclosure mandatory and quality checking every ad before it enters the marketplace.
All stakeholders in the industry have a duty to ensure all marketing, including in-feed advertising, is clearly disclosed.
We have seen the beginnings of guidelines from the IAB, input from the FTC and plenty of research into consumer awareness and behaviour. We also ensure our partners all use language such as “sponsored by” with clear use of brand names and logos to signal content as sponsored. We’re also seeing partners using background colours and AdChoices icons to set sponsored content apart. Disclosure is good for the consumer, brand and publisher, because it leads to genuine engagement and avoids consumer backlash.
‘Outstream’ video ads – usually embedded in articles – are growing in popularity amongst publishers. Are they something you’re offering or do you think they sit outside how we define ‘native’?
KS: Our In-Feed format is an outstream video unit that’s also native to the site. Because our format takes on the unique look and feel of a website through our Liquid Layout Technology, it’s absolutely a “native” format. Since our ads are the content itself, they are also considered “outstream” ads as well. And because of our ViewPlay technology (which only plays the video once in-view), we are able to ensure the video ad is highly viewable. Publishers love our format also, as they are disclosed as a native ad but have the unique look and feel of their site.