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Posted by The DoubleClick Marketing Team


Native advertising is an increasingly popular ad monetization strategy for publishers. The New York Times is an early adopter, and recently we caught up with their Managing Director of Ad Innovation, Nicholas Van Amburg, on what they’ve learned from running native ads. Here’s what he shared.

The New York Times’ first issue was printed in 1851 as a penny paper, and now, we share news with over one million digital-only subscribers every day. In our 164-year history, we’ve seen our readers shift from print, to computers, to mobile. Despite all of this change, however, we’ve remained committed to delivering the highest-quality content to our readers—whether it’s news, features, opinions or ads. First and foremost, it makes our readers happy. But, it also serves as an important foundation for a sustainable monetization strategy. Whether readers are interacting with our articles, videos, podcasts, or apps, our ads needs to be just as engaging as our own content.

To create a strong user experience wherever people are reading news, we’ve experimented a lot with our native advertising strategy. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Create effective ad formats that scale

One of our early experimentations with native advertising was a solution we called ‘Flex Frames.’ To offer the best user experience possible, we ensured Flex Frame ads behaved like organic content by matching the look and feel of surrounding contexts, both in terms of editorial content and across different platforms and devices.

While Flex Frames successfully adapted to the look and feel of our content, we faced roadblocks when attempting to scale -- our team was dedicating countless hours to coding and compiling ads for review by advertisers. To overcome this challenge, we partnered with DoubleClick and have realized significant efficiencies since.

Use data to make smart decisions

The ability to leverage our first party audience data proved crucial to our native advertising strategy, allowing us to place the right ad in front of the right person at the right time, both in terms of content and format. For example, we will serve a video ad rather than a photo story if we know a reader is more likely to view video content than view photos in a carousel. These highly-relevant ads produce excellent results with 6X higher CTRs with 4X more viewable impressions.

Launch and iterate

Metrics are important, and you have to know what to measure in order to decide whether ads are working for you and your users. It’s important to identify KPIs at the start of a project, and measure them regularly. These KPIs may differ based on the company, but for us, after running a variety of focus groups through our Consumer Insights Group, we found user engagement to be one of our most important KPIs. We want to know the ad experience is a positive one for our users—that our ads aren’t just tolerated, but that people actually opt to spend time with them. We’re constantly testing ads to understand what’s working and what’s not.

Educate sales and advertisers to see the value of native ads

We’ve been working with native ads for over a year now, but for many people, these ads are still relatively new. Even a year in, the hardest thing about my job continues to be educating sales teams about native formats. And the same goes for advertisers—it’s our job at The New York Times to demystify component-based ads and explain why they're better for the whole ecosystem. With more education, sales teams can better sell native ads, and advertisers will start opting for more native formats.

The next generation of native ads

Taking what we’ve learned so far, I believe the next big leap for native ads is to deliver more meaningful, contextually-relevant experiences across an ever-broader spectrum of media formats and devices. This is important because The New York Times isn’t just a paper or a website anymore. It's a website. It's an app. It's a host of touchpoints and experiences where the user sits at the core. We're headed for a world that lives on an incredibly fractured series of screens and touch points -- and our challenge is to make sure that we are meeting and exceeding users’ expectations across all them.

We recently released Native Ads on DoubleClick across all screens — on the web and in apps — to all our partners. Watch the video below to learn more about The New York Times’ strategy and approach to native advertising or continue to to read the case study.

Posted by Nicholas Van Amburg
Managing Director of Ad Innovation, The New York Times

Cross-posted from the AMP Project blog

When the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) team set out to help make mobile experiences great for everybody, the objective wasn’t just to improve a user’s engagement with content. We knew the experience people had with ads was equally important to help publishers fund the great content we all love to read.

The AMP team laid out four core principles that would guide the innovation on the AMP ads roadmap and get us to a world where ads are as fast and engaging as the content we value.

  • Faster is better
  • ‘Beautiful’ matters
  • Security is a must
  • We’re better together

We recently took a moment to review the progress made and see how ads on AMP are doing. We compared ad performance on AMP and non-AMP mobile pages across 150 publishers (large corporations and small businesses in different geographic regions) on our programmatic platforms. The preliminary results are encouraging.

Compared to non-AMP pages, ads on AMP have led to:

  • 80%+ of the publishers realizing higher viewability rates
  • 90%+ of the publishers driving greater engagement with higher CTRs
  • The majority of the publishers seeing higher eCPMs (Impact and proportion of lift varies by region and how optimized the non-AMP sites are)

We have also received positive feedback from a number of publishers with varying mobile web advertising business models:

"So far, AMP has performed well against a number of metrics for advertising effectiveness and revenue. One encouraging stat is that we have seen an increase in viewability of ads within the AMP environment. As the industry moves more towards this as a measurement tool it is important we focus on optimizing for this metric. We are encouraged by the open approach to both publishers and our tech partners and look forward to what’s to come."
— Noah Szubski, Chief Product Officer, DailyMail and EliteDaily

"It is still very early days, but AMP has performed well to date from both direct and indirect monetization sources. We've been able to extend all of our custom ad products to AMP and have enabled it within our premium ad marketplace, Concert. We see AMP as a perfect intersection of two core tenets of Vox Media - fast mobile web experiences and ads that perform. We are encouraged by all of the metrics and are looking forward to continuing to grow this important channel."
— Joe Alicata, Vice President of Revenue Products & Operations, Vox Media

“We’ve seen a 90% decrease in page latency, 96% decrease in unfilled impressions, 65% increase in ad engagement and 32% increase in eCPM. Perceived load time improved from approximately 17 seconds to 2-3 seconds.”
—Conor Beck, Director of political news network TownHall Media

While this makes for a promising start, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with ads in AMP. There’s much work ahead for us and the rest of the industry — including our third party ad tech partners — to make advertising experiences on the mobile web as great as content experiences with AMP. We’re both committed to and excited by that.

If you’re curious about what lies ahead for the broader AMP project, check out the AMP roadmap. Here’s a brief snapshot of what we are expecting to launch with ads this quarter and next:

  • “Beautiful” matters: Two new formats that are as beautiful as they are engaging.
    • Sticky Ads — greater viewability without sacrificing user experience
    • Flying Carpet Ad — a large canvas for immersive, fast ad experiences
  • AMP ads for AMP pages: Ads that load as fast as the content on AMP

Stay tuned for more details on some of these ads initiatives in coming weeks.

Posted by Craig DiNatali
Director, Global Partnerships Google

Posted by Nitin Kashyap
Product Manager, Google