Not quite two years ago, Ben Young, co-founder of Young & Shand, packed his bags and headed to New York to fill what he saw as a gap in the market for analytics around native advertising. Now its measurement tool Nudge has been given a major boost after entering a licensing agreement with one of the world's leading native advertising software companies, Sharethrough.
Sharethrough started as a video amplification company in 2008, but moved into native advertising and now offers a platform for the realtime buying, selling and management of native infeed advertising and works with hundreds of website and app publishers—like Time Inc., Men’s Health, Flixster, Forbes, USA Today Sports, Real Simple, PEOPLE—across 90,000 different websites. Its native exchange is now the world's largest and is used by advertisers to promote all forms of content within the feeds of Sharethrough's publisher partners.
Its software suite allows publishers to sell their in-feed native ad inventory and to host, sell, and deliver sponsored content. With this partnership, Young says every piece of content sold through their Sharethough for Publishers platform, which is "growing really quickly", will include Nudge. It focuses on attention metrics and post-click analysis, so it identifies what sections on each piece of sponsored content audiences are spending their time on, allowing brands to understand which parts of their content is sticky. Additionally, it shows the performance of different traffic sources to enable a deeper understanding of how different audiences interact with a publisher’s sponsored content.
And Young says this will be a big boost in its goal of demystifying native advertising.
"People make it really complex. It's not," he says.
As he said recently when interviewed in a story featuring in NZ Marketing: “Not all clicks are created equal is our philosophy. Ultimately, brands are producing the content to try and change perceptions, or so people learn something about them. So marketers should be tracking post-click to see if anything has changed ... Brands want to measure the reach. But the second part is more important: did you change their minds? … I think [native advertising] is good for publishers. They understand their audience. So they can create content that they know will resonate with them. That’s a better conversation to have than how many clicks you can get.”
Like any piece of marketing, he says each execution might have a different purpose, so “you have to be careful not to put too many demands on one piece of content”. And, unlike a big TV ad, he says native advertising is often part of a broader campaign and is a “good option for extending an idea”.
Young says there are two main areas of native advertising. 1) For example, Land Rover does a campaign with Time Inc and it needs a couple of pieces of content, like a review of a vehicle or a video, so readers are taken somewhere else on the web. Time Inc can drive traffic to that. And 2) paid content that's created by publishers.
Young says it's working on both sides of the equation. Sharethrough's network offers the first option and it's doing pilots with five or six of the biggest media agencies to compare the performance across different publishers and then redirect spend to the best performers. And it's also working direct with publishers so they can see how their paid content performs.
- Check out the case study on GE's native advertising here.
Young says it signed the deal with Sharethrough late last year but was only able to announce it now. He was unable to discuss the terms of the deal. But he says it also has a few other similar licensing deals in the pipeline.
"For us, this is a pretty big win. [Sharethrough] is one of the big ones and it's on track to turn over $100 million this year. So it's a massive opportunity."
And he says the high-profile partnership has already resulted in a few phone calls from other companies enquiring about its services.
Young, who will be celebrating two years in New York in August, is very happy with how quickly Nudge has gained traction.
"We've done some pretty big things," he says. "I'm pretty stoked."
He says it is also about to go life with Google Tag manager, which encompasses over 300,000 websites. And it is the only external analytics company with that honour.
He's also been running some native ad talks in New York and attracting some high-profile speakers like Contently's Joe Lazauskas, Adam Ashton, editorial director at The New York Times and DigiDay's senior editor Lucia Moses.