Does native advertising have any future in mobile banking?

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27 January 2014
Stephen Greer
A new trend in the digital publishing world is a shift toward ‘native advertising.’ Advertisers are beginning to make ads more subtle, blending them into the actual content of the website. The ads are presented in a way that flows seamlessly with the voice and style their environment. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others have been doing this for a while, but only recently has editorial media adopted the style. Some predict native ads will dominate digital channels across all industries in 2014. See below for examples from Twitter and Facebook.

Native ads in mobile emphasize minimal disruption in UX

PicPic1

Source: Facebook iPhone App; Twitter

Unsurprisingly, banner ads have proven to be increasingly ineffective. The unnatural placement of banner ads makes them all too easy to block or simply ignore, and the flashing lights, noises, ridiculous promises, or distracting mini-games can be extremely annoying. In mobile apps, where real estate is more limited, native advertising has allowed for a much more natural flow for the marketing (as shown in the figure above), and the effectiveness has been impressive. A study by IPG Media Labs showed that users looked at native ads 53% more than display ads. They also were 32% more likely to recommend the product to a friend. Banks can learn important lessons from the way native ads effectively gain the attention of the user while still respecting user experience, especially in mobile app design. Financial institutions are understandably wary about trying to push anything through mobile that might be considered an annoyance. Adopting some of the principles of native marketing and integrating them into a cross-selling strategy may be a much more effective route to take. A couple of key takeaways:
  • Native ads don’t disrupt user experience: The key principle of a native approach to advertising is a seamless integration of the advertisement into the user experience.
  • Marketing can be well designed to fit into existing interfaces: Evernote (seen in the figure below) uses this principle to show that a properly design user interface can make ads appear very natural.

Evernote’s UI Allows for Ads While not Sacrificing UX

pic2

Source: Evernote iPhone App

To drive adoption, banks have often been hesitant to heavily push marketing, fearing the disruption in user experience. User experience is clearly one of the most important aspects of digital channels, but applying some principles of native advertising could enhance sales effectiveness. Could this be the logical next step for banks with strong mobile adoption and a proven digital strategy?

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