If you regularly visit SBNation, CBS Interactive’s GameSpot or a TVGuide website you may have noticed a new recommendation box at the bottom of each piece of content. It looks like this and it’s powered by Yahoo!
I hate to be a backseat ad-driver, but if it were me, I’d flip those two sponsored ads. Put the muscle builder miracle cure on the sports site and the cheap car insurance on the gamer site. . . but I digress.
The real story here is that Yahoo has taken their native ads on the road. Now, people don’t have to visit a Yahoo site to see one of the network’s native ads, they can see them on these three (with presumably more coming) sites. More exposure is great for advertisers and Yahoo can use all the clicks it can get.
According to AdAge, the popularity of Yahoo’s native ad program has actually hurt the company.
While Stream Ads have helped to spur advertiser interest in Yahoo’s products, they have hurt revenue in dollar terms: Sales of Yahoo’s more lucrative premium ads have declined as advertisers opt for the lower-priced native units. As a result, Yahoo’s second-quarter display revenue declined by 8% from a year earlier, when it first rolled out Stream Ads. That quarter marked the seventh consecutive period of year-over-year declines for Yahoo’s display revenue.
What I don’t understand is why they’re calling these native ads at all! A native ad is supposed to blend in with its surroundings – thus the word “native”. It usually looks so much like content that people have complained and now companies have to put giant banners or huge SPONSORED notation at the start so people don’t feel like they’ve being tricked.
Who’s going to be tricked by a link that says “New Muscle Builder Takes GNC by Storm?” Or this ad that I found on Yahoo’s tech page:
That’s not what I call native. Over on the beauty channel, I saw a sponsored post on how to create a Bardot top bun. That’s native. It’s an informative piece of content that isn’t a love letter for the sponsor. I wanted to screengrab that ad but when I reloaded the screen it was gone. I guess, since it’s an ad, I get one shot at it and then it’s someone else’s turn.
The fact that Yahoo ads are showing up on big name websites is good for everyone but it would be better for everyone if those “native” ads actually blended in better with the first three boxes in the row because this is the one occasion when standing out is not a good thing.