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Digital Advertising Trends: Avalanche, TNR, Conversions

Publishers tracking the latest digital advertising trends are seeing new developments in native + brand metrics

Any and all recent discussions about digital advertising trends – including this one – make mention of native advertising. Some publishers have embraced it, while others are wrestling with the ethics, implications, and logistics.

In this roundup, we’ll take a look at a potential solution for the latter group of publishers, as well as another example of the former. In between, we’ll check in on what advertisers themselves are looking for from publishers and platforms when it comes to metrics. All three updates come from WSJ.com’s excellent CMO Today blog.

Is Avalanche the Next Big Thing?

Avalanches are card-style ads placed within a content carousel on a publisher’s site. Praised for being a happy medium between native and display, they’re elegant in their assimilation yet are clearly marked and not meant to mislead readers.

The ad type is attracting both publishers and brands, and a startup cross-device ad builder Velocity Made Good is capitalizing on the strong match, WSJ.com reports. VMG went from 4 publishing clients to 30 in 2014, and the roster continues to grow. Currently, it includes Bonnier, Business Insider, Condé Nast, DailyMail.com, Slate, Time Inc., and The Washington Post.

Buyers include the likes of BMW, Canon, Charles Schwab, Guinness, Land Rover, Porsche, Samsung, and Verizon.

Business Outcomes: The Only Metric That Matters?

Those buyers will want results, of course, but the struggle to measure bang for buck has always complicated publisher-advertiser relationships. Metrics like impressions, clicks, and visits are useful, but they don’t mean the consumer actually took an action leading to sales.

So, is there a better way to measure audience? Platforms like Facebook are leading the way in answering yes, and their efforts are being helped along by new ad tech. 

“As marketers think more careful about the business outcomes their ad dollars actually produce, a host of data companies have emerged in an attempt to help them connect the dots. Datalogix, for example, says it helps marketers optimize their ad spending by tracking real-world sales data. Optimizing ad campaigns to drive sales is a more effective strategy than optimizing towards soft metrics such as ‘engagement,’ the thinking goes,” Jack Marshall writes at WSJ.com.

“Nielsen Catalina Solutions and comScore offer similar capabilities, designed to help marketers understand and optimize towards purchase behavior. All three companies are integrated with online publishers, ad vendors and ad tech companies.

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“According to some marketers, this type of data could help alleviate some of their concerns about the online ad world. The industry is currently figuring out how to identify and mitigate fraudulent traffic and non-viewable ads.

“To an extent those problems are irrelevant if a marketer can simply measure business outcomes from their ad campaigns. If a marketer is confident that ads from vendor X will drive a significant lift in sales, for example, perhaps issues like fraud and viewability become secondary concerns.”

The New Republic Will Produce Ad Content

Months after its ugly editorial walk-out in response to new owners and executives, The New Republic is probably confirming those erstwhile staffers’ worst fears with this latest move: the decision to craft branded content for advertisers. TNR is just the latest in a long line of publishers forming in-house marketing teams.

The magazine hired former content marketing exec Kayvan Salmanpour as chief revenue officer tasked with building a native studio.

What digital advertising trends are you trying to keep an eye on? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about these digital advertising trends, visit The Wall Street Journal’s CMO Today.

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