Over the past ten years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance and near- universal disdain. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which means 99.8% of banner ads are completely ignored. Meanwhile, led by YouTube and Hulu, the pre-roll ad market is only shifting in one direction: towards “skippable prerolls,” not forced interruption. And preroll skip rates are only moving in one direction (hint: when you give users the ability to skip annoying ads, they usually do).
As banner clickthrough rates go down and preroll skip rates go up, a new opportunity has emerged for web publishers: native advertising. Native advertising is defined as ad strategies that allow brands to promote their content into the endemic experience of a site in a non-interruptive, integrated way.
Most, if not all, major platforms on the web — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress — have universally adopted “native” advertising formats, in some cases entirely eschewing traditional display banners and interruptive preroll. For these new native ad platforms, borne of a generation of banner blindness and skip buttons, native is the only viable ad strategy. These native ad strategies are built around twin pillars of content and choice, not banners and interruption.