As digital advertising continues to outpace growth in traditional media in India (30%+ CAGR projected through 2018), online storytelling is poised to become king of the digital world. Storytelling via native advertising promises to deliver what early web formats like banners, layers and pop-ups failed miserably to achieve – an engaging dialogue with consumers.
This content led, publisher aware advertising innovation works on ‘pull,’ drawing the reader into the story, instead of beating him over the head with intrusive, non-contextual messaging. Organizations like Taboola, Outbrain and Buzzfeed have dedicated themselves to making this new format a success and are seeing dramatic results.
The industry does have to be careful of killing the golden goose, by monetizing too aggressively and flirting with consumer backlash. Early advertisers in the category sensing a gold rush are playing to the lowest common denominator, with content focused on the Kardashian backside and that type of populist stuff, to maximize eyeballs. It’ll work in the short run, but create more blind spots on the digital canvas in the long term, unless actively curated.
As the native advertising category matures however, it’ll likely be a gold mine for brands and publishers to influence relevant audiences to engage. In fact it can be as effective as television for showcasing compelling brand stories, and as with most things digital is far better targeted. In 2015 Indian marketers need to start running experiments with native advertising on digital, so when the shift is upon us, we’re ready.