Native is a bit like awkward teenager – it’s still trying to figure itself out and it just wants to fit in.
Sharethrough is looking to help native advertising blend in a little better with a new unit that takes a cue from the way players like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest display third-party content on their own properties.
Native Cards, available Wednesday, enables brands and publishers to dynamically create ad units that fit into the flow of a publisher’s existing content by entering a URL into Sharethrough’s platform. When a user taps or clicks on on the unit, it neatly expands to fit the screen, allowing them to view the ad content without leaving the site.
Intel partnered with Sharethrough on the launch.
The technology behind Native Cards is an extension of Sharethrough’s existing real-time templating tech, which lets clients to match their ad to the style attributes of any publisher site.
The point is immersion, said Chris Schreiber, Sharethrough’s VP of marketing and communications.
“With ‘Native Ads 1.0,’ the entire focus has been on in-feed ads that only match the colors, fonts and layout of a publisher’s site [and] these ads almost exclusively take users off of a publisher’s page,” he said. “There is still a need for this type of ad unit and type of engagement, but now, with card, we’re ushering in what we’re referring to as ‘Native Ads 2.0.’”
And Native Ads 2.0 is all about engagement. Punting someone off-site when that person clicks on an ad doesn’t encourage what Schreiber called a “natural experience.”
In a sense, the cards are an alternative to deep linking, he said.
“Advertisers can still drive traffic to their site or app with a deep link or keep users within the native experience of the site through Native Cards,” Schreiber said.
“The goal is to provide the user with a more efficient media experience that also drives content engagement,” he said. “The majority of the content experience can happen directly within a feed instead of linking – whether deep or not – out to a site or application.”
More than 20 cards are available via Sharethrough right now, along them several platform-specific offerings, including a “buy now” button on the Etsy card and a “pledge now” button on the Kickstarter card. [Check out the functionality here.]
Of course, engagement is just a pipe dream if the native content behind the unit is subpar. As former AppNexus CTO Mike Nolet recently noted in a blog post, “Native advertising is killing the net.” In other words, low-quality native content isn’t doing anyone – advertiser, publisher or even vendor – any favors.
To that end, Sharethrough recently built a content quality score into its auction-based exchange to weigh the quality of advertiser content.
“Instead of focusing on ad performance data, such as click-through rates, as a proxy for quality, our algorithm focuses on signals like sentiment analysis and social sharing data to understand the innate value of the content itself,” Schreiber said. “We’re trying to put an end to clickbait that might get good engagement, but delivers little value to the end user.”