Time to Speak the Native (Advertising) Language in APAC

Xaxis recently expanded its footprint in APAC by launching plista in China and Malaysia in an effort to bring innovative native advertising solutions powered by data to the region.

The Plista launch serves as a one stop native solution for both publishers and advertisers. While some might find this news late, considering Plista’s launch in Australia last year, that country has always been a year or so ahead of the curve in advertising technology.

So by way of acknowledgement, the two new office launches signify that the rest of the APAC region is finally ready to go full steam in native advertising.

Why did it take so long for native to steal the limelight?

Native advertising never soared as much as it rightfully deserved because the term was underused compared to its counterparts, including ‘social media advertising’, ‘mobile advertising’, and ‘outdoor advertising’. As a result, brands could be deploying a native advertising tactic but not realise it was such. Historically, the strategy has always been about getting consumers’ attention based on their interaction with the medium or device.

The question—whether we should spend our budget on TVCs, print ads, web banners or radio?—was always primary; discussions and questions on content were secondary.

Enter the age of ‘content is king’ 

The meteoric rise of native advertising was definitely bolstered by the emergence of the age of content. Content became king when brands looked to move beyond just ‘advertising’ and toward persuasion and connection with the audience through ‘story telling’. Whether it’s a sports brand trying to sell apparel by promoting fitness, or an olive oil brand trying to sell the benefits of cooking with its product, creating relevant content is definitely key. Some brands even have dedicated content creation teams, and recently, the industry has seen an influx of job titles such as content writer or head of content.

So the question is: how do you feed content to consumers in a less invasive manner in such a crowded digital space?

How can native help make advertising more welcome? 

With more and more ads fighting for the attention of the same group of audiences, ad-blocking has become the mortar that consumers use to build their own ‘walled gardens’. This is based on what consumers define as invasive and irrelevant ads that interrupt their digital user experience. To complement digital advertising strategies, native advertising has quickly become an attractive solution as it blends in with user content consumption habits. It continues to support the goals and efforts of traditional online advertising by being an additional avenue that allows advertisers to push more content without being invasive.

Native also helps make advertising welcome by giving audiences the option of choosing what they want to read and when they want to read it. Of course, this has to be done programmatically to ensure that the right content is going out and being consumed by the intended audience.

It is no coincidence—according to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, eMarketer and IAB US—that paid advertising content, particularly those that resemble editorial pieces, will grow from US$8.6 billion in 2016 to $16.9 billion by 2018.

When to go native? 

All of this does not mean that every advertiser should throw all their budget into native advertising. Besides looking at the content you have, advertisers need to ask questions such as: Where does your brand stand now? What is your objective? Do you have the resources to develop meaningful and relevant content? Do you have the data needed to capture the right audience at the right time on the right device?

Michel De Rijk is the Asia Pacific Chief Executive Officer of Xaxis. 

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