• Emily Malone

The science behind today’s native ads

From clay tablets to manuscripts, to books, and now to the mobile feed. Our brains haven’t changed in 50,000 years, but the way we’re drawn to and consume content has.

Per the founders of nativeadscience.com, a survey of millennials took place which delved into how the subconscious brain responds to mobile native ads. And It turns out that user experience is key.

In fact, 79% of millennials said videos that automatically play in the feed is convenient, and 70% acknowledge the headline while watching the autoplay video.

What does this mean?

This preference of convenience means it’s important to make the ad feel like it belongs and to make sure that it doesn’t require much effort to be consumed. This is what’s happening right now; it’s not a future concept. The news feed is currently the largest category of digital advertising. In fact, if you scroll down yours right now, I’ll bet you’ll find at least one subtitled sponsored video that auto-plays. It looks like we’ve gone back to the days of silent movies, as most video content on our feeds is automatically watched without sound. Um, what do you mean millennials are “lazy”…?

It’s been a tough evening in the oe:gen Airbnb #inbound16 #sleep #millennials

A photo posted by OE:GEN (@therealoegen) on Nov 8, 2016 at 10:42pm PST

But what’s more interesting is that 58% of millennials said they’d prefer it if publishers made their money on native ads. Though they understand the sponsored posts which appear in their news feeds are paid for, because they aren’t a foreign object disrupting the page like a banner ad, they’re not considered an advertisement.

We’re all biologically wired to make split-second, subconscious judgements about stuff. And more than ever, this can be applied to native ads. The impression is the point of influence, so you need to make a really good first impression by avoiding clickbait and disruptive banner ads. Native ads with meaningful headers and thumbnails will help inform our opinion and allows us to jump to more positive conclusions and associations around a brand.

But how has this happened?

Mobile devices are now pretty much tied to our physical being; it’s almost as if the brain is now clutched in our hands or hidden away in our pockets. Mind-blowingly, people would rather amputate a finger than lose their phone forever. No, really; according to Sharethrough’s CEO and founder Dan Greenberg, 60% of 18-25-year-olds said they’d sacrifice a pinky to keep their digital world close.  In fact, when asked, some even said: “you need a phone to live a normal life now.” Scary!

Think about it: isn’t it funny how we always say ‘the TV’, ‘the radio’ ‘the newspaper’, but we never say ‘the phone’? Instead, it’s always ‘my phone’. This is where the ‘intimacy principle’ comes into play, which suggests that the more personal a device is, the more integrated the push messaging model must be.

For example, if Amazon’s Alexa spoke without being engaged with to tell you about the latest deals, that would:

A) Freak you out and;

B) Break the illusion of intimacy.

You’d no longer see Alexa as a handy device that’s under your control, but an annoyance. This can be applied to all aspects of online advertising. It all comes back to inbound marketing: if you let your perfect-fit prospects come to you rather than incessantly try to push everyone into buying, you’ll drive better quality leads and happier customers.

The conclusion?

Today, advertising is all about respect, choice, and intimacy. But above all, it’s about putting the power in the consumer’s hands. If you can make ads naturally fit in, and consumers feel helped rather than advertised to, everybody wins.