The number of brands using native advertising globally has exploded over the past 12 months. In the U.S. alone, native ad spending is expected to grow to $US8.8 billion by 2018. The catalyst for this surge is a consumer subset known as “affluent millennials,” or “supercharged millennials,” who are hungry for branded content.
The Asia-Pacific region, and India, in particular, is experiencing a similar phenomenon. More than 80% of affluent millennial internet users in India want branded content, compared with 73% worldwide, according to a recent survey conducted for BBC Advertising by Voxpopme. (See video at end of article.)
The research also found that supercharged millennials have an emotional affiliation with brands. Some 70% of those surveyed said their favourite brands play a crucial role in their lives compared with 51% for nonaffluent millennials.
When Millennials Met Native
Native advertising speaks to the socially conscious millennial when the brand reveals its progressive values in a creative way. Affluent millennials also have higher expectations of brands–82% prefer those that give something back to society, versus only 67% for nonaffluent millennials, the survey found.
Supercharged millennials are also much more likely to buy something based on native advertising: According to the survey, 72% of respondents would pay more for sustainable products compared with 57% for nonaffluent millennials.
Brands must therefore embody the values held tightly by this consumer segment. “Native advertising is socially relevant, so you have to leverage the power of local marketing to tell your stories,” said Raj Deepak Das, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett, South Asia. “How is your brand impacting the world around you?”
Native ads have been shown to generate quality traffic and effectively cut through the advertising clutter, but generating the content is far from easy, said Preethi Sanjeevi, regional chief marketing officer and head of consumer insights at VML Southeast Asia and India.
“The challenge lies in enabling greater efficiencies when scaling native content and localising these initiatives to the context and language of individual markets,” she said.
However, brands lacking in local data might face a roadblock when delivering targeted campaigns.
“Marketers need to work with like-minded partners that possess the relevant audience technology algorithms to gain access to hyperlocal audience profiles across a diverse range of channels and sources,” Sanjeevi added.
Millennials, in particular, appreciate thoughtful experiences and advertising messaging based on information they’ve previously shared, Sanjeevi said.
“Failing to take the time to listen, understand, and respond to these unique data sets can equate to an incomplete or stereotyped view of a consumer’s interests, intent, and behavior,” she said.
Beginning, Middle, And End
Affluent millennials like brands to tell them a story, but one with integrity and on the right platform. “Nothing beats a simple human story told with the help of technology,” Deepak Das said.
Editorial and video sites, as well as social platforms, appear to benefit the most from native advertising, according to an eMarketer report about native ad formats used by marketers in Asia. More than half (58%) of respondents said they preferred native editorial over any other native format.
Indian media organisation Scoopwhoop is an example of a brand with a strong social conviction. “Scoopwhoop has a clear focus on owning its editorial voice, with the aim of tapping into the millennial demographic,” Sanjeevi said. “They have gained traction for creating content focused on trending issues that is perfect for social sharing.”
APAC marketers must be sure that native content aligns with their customers’ values and assists them on their purchasing journeys. They also need to be aware that affluent millennials have high expectations around native content.
“Beyond the essentials of data-led insights, the success of native ads necessitates strong content strategically aligned with the brand’s purpose, tone, and design,” Sanjeevi said.