Justin Choi was CEO of Nativo in 2013. This article originally appeared in The Advertising Technology Review in 2013.
Only 1-year-old, Nativo has risen to prominence in a crowded field through a series of moves designed to make native ad placement easier for advertisers, along with an advantageous alliance with Vivaki. We spoke with CEO Justin Choi about his company and the future of native ads in a world looking for alternatives to traditional display.
Native ads have come under scrutiny of late. What are some reasons that brands should consider the format despite some of the controversy?
There are several reasons: First of all, banners simply aren’t supporting content creators and thus, publishers are at various stages of decreasing their reliance on them. In this attention-based economy, interruption isn’t a brand-building strategy. So native programs are growing. In fact, 90 percent of brands will be providing native ads by the end of the year. Native will be the primary advertising option and on some sites, the only option. The brands who move first will understand this new category the best and have a distinct marketing advantage.
Effective ads are designed for engagement, influencing opinion, and really building a relationship with the consumer. Native done right can do all of those things well. Native really allows the space for deep brand storytelling. Native solves mobile reach for advertisers and mobile monetization for publishers. Smart publishers will figure out mobile monetization as their audiences are spending more of their time on tablets and smartphones. Consumers are less tolerant of interruptive advertising on mobile devices. Native not only works well on mobile, it actually works better there as well as on the desktop.
Native ads seem to have great numbers when compared to traditional display on a fairly consistent basis- why is that?
They are located where the user is looking. They don’t look foreign to the site so they get user consideration. Marketers have to think about headlines and content force and must strive to deliver value, and when they do, users get engaged. Being able to consume brand content where you are already engaged is a very different psychological experience than clicking on something and being whisked away to another site.
Let’s talk about your strategic partnership with Vivaki. What do you hope to bring to the ecosystem with this move?
This relationship really encourages their partner agencies to test various programs. It tells them that although we are a three-year-young company and that native is a new category, we have been vetted. VivaKi looked at various native players and chose Nativo after reviewing our technology. It’s an accelerator.
We plan on doing some very innovative executions and doing case studies around them. We will share learnings with the industry as a whole. The relationship will help us obtain deeper feedback enabling us to evolve our platform more quickly. Ultimately, it supports our goal of building the best advertising technology possible—for both publishers and advertisers.
Each year, another pundit writes that display ads are over, but they aren’t just yet. Eventually, native ads will evolve- where are they headed? We don’t think banners will disappear but that ads will go in-stream and native. Instream is the evolution of the banner and will draw direct-response dollars. Native is where both the form and function match that of the site. That said, native will eventually become a 10-figure ad spend category and will be the go-to unit for branding. If things go the way we hope, marketers will change their thinking from interruption to engagement.
About Justin Choi
Nativo is the third company Justin has founded, and has fast become the premier native advertising platform for interactive publishers and advertisers. Nativo already works with more 1,500 publications, including The Street Inc., USA Today Sports Media Group, Source Interlink Media, Kiplinger Washington Editors Inc., Internet Brands, Entrepreneur Media Inc., Investor Place Media, Reader’s Digest, Sandusky Newspapers and dozens of major brands, including Mazda, Ford, P&G, T-Mobile, Plantronics, Symantec .