The Association of Online Publishers (AOP), report, The Power of Native, reveals a number of key findings around this highly publicised emerging advertising format.
This includes consumer attitudes towards native advertising on premium content websites and the impact of native ads on key brand metrics, and also outlines five key components that publishers and advertisers can adopt to create effective native ads.
When compared to traditional advertising, native advertising was found to be more informative (32 per cent compared to 16 per cent), more interesting (27 per cent versus 19 per cent), more useful (21 per cent versus 13 per cent) and more helpful (15 per cent versus 10 per cent).
However, native advertising was also perceived to be less eye-catching (21 per cent versus 23 per cent) and less easy to understand (23 per cent versus 27 per cent).
Other key insights from the research show that native adverts garner greater levels of trust among consumers with a third (33%) more likely to trust native adverting than traditional advertising, and that clicking on a native ad driver on a premium content website has greater impact than clicking via Facebook.
The study was conducted by Tapestry Research and combines the results of a quantitative online survey of 1,500 respondents with 10 qualitative interviews. Six advertising campaigns were shown to participants across five premium content websites including Marie Claire, The Huffington Post, Trinity Mirror, The Week, and BBC Good Food, under a distracted exposure technique.
Lynne Springett, insight director at Time Inc UK, said: "This research on native advertising has proved some valuable points. If you get it right by developing original content for a brand, in a tone of voice to which the consumer already relates, then it taps into an existing emotional connection that does the ‘heavy lifting’ in tasks such as shifting brand perception, raising awareness or increasing propensity to buy – making it popular with consumers, advertisers, and publishers alike.
"To get it right, publishers need to be transparent and make it clear who is bringing consumers this content.
"The audience tends not to mind that it is paid-for as long as publishers are clear about it and make sure it is interesting and engaging, and not just about the advertiser’s own product. As Howard Gossage said, ‘People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an ad'."
The average uplift of native adverts compared to traditional adverts on brand trust was significant, with a third of respondents (32%) accessing the native driver on a premium content website compared to 1% accessing the native driver via the social media stream.
Interestingly, when supported by traditional advertising, native advertising saw an uplift of 38 percentage points across key brand metrics, when compared with unsupported native ads.
Tim Cain, head of research at the AOP, said: "Native is one of the biggest topics in digital publishing right now.
"This study is a significant piece of research into the power of native advertising, and provides best practice for publishers and advertisers to make their native adverts work harder.
"The study is extensive, but one key takeaway from the findings is that advertisers should be mindful of taking ‘the hard sell’ – if native advertising is too direct it can damage positive brand messaging."