Industry Insights
Programmatic Native and the Future of Automated Buying with Storygize

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David Osman
Co-Founder & CEO
Storygize

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For those of us not familiar with Storygize, please tell us a little more about your platform and core offering.

Storygize provides programmatic native advertising in support of content marketing. As a performance-minded boutique agency, we consult on best strategies to execute native advertising to reach brand goals—with story sequencing and advanced targeting considerations. And we employ proprietary algorithms to track and continuously optimize on clicks and engagement metrics in real time.

 

There are quite a few native ad platforms out there. It seems like when there is a hot trend like ‘native’, everyone jumps on the bandwagon within months and includes that in their offering. What would you say are the key differences between native units, content marketing, content recommendation, and content amplification?

Yes, we’ve noticed definitions continue to confuse. Mediapost published an article April 27th that clarifies some, but to us its clear:

Native ads match the form and function—or general styling—of the website on which they reside. Typically comprised of an image, headline, and sometimes caption, native ads are contextually relevant and drive targeted audiences to carefully crafted content.

Content marketing is an approach to marketing where marketers develop content for named buyer personas at different stages of the consumer journey. Ideally each piece of content—whether created as an article, blog post, video, infographic, look book, game, etc.—serves to create awareness, inspire or educate, push down the funnel to take an action or make a purchase, or generally engage a consumer to gain their trust and affection. In other words, content marketing is a way to have a conversation and form a long-term relationship.

Content recommendation equates to native advertising within a particular format. At the bottom of an article, you’ll often see thumbnails suggesting additional contextually-relatively content you might enjoy. If “recommended” by Outbrain, for example—which is one of our several native ad inventory sources btw—or labeled “sponsored”, those recommendations are actually native ads.

Content amplification addresses the problem of how to get the right eyeballs on your carefully crafted content. It’s about finding new audiences, extending reach, and then scaling. Native advertising provides a way to target audiences and deliver them to that content (i.e. landing page). I’ve heard others describe native as the envelop and content as the message… Add programmatic buying, advanced targeting, and engagement optimization to the mix, and Storygize will amplify in a big way.

 

As a content amplification platform, what are some of your main inventory sources where you are able to further distribute a piece of content?

Storygize teams up with the biggest and best native inventory suppliers to cast the widest net possible for an advertiser’s target audience. We aggregate inventory sources such as Outbrain, AdsNative, Connatix, Yahoo Gemini, and TripleLift (and more) to allow advertisers access to a massive number of sites via RTB and programmatic buying, but all through one source: Storygize. This ensures maximum efficiency of the advertiser’s spend, not to mention saves them a ton of time.

 

What does a typical campaign with Storygize look like? Are there specific types of client categories that work best with content amplification?

Each campaign is unique. We work closely with each advertiser to understand their content objectives and performance goals. We create a native advertising strategy to set them up for success before launch. This includes aligning native ad creative and headlines with landing page content, identifying audience demographics and publisher categories, and agreeing on success metrics. We discuss story sequencing and a variety of targeting options; and then we start small, let our machine work its magic, find traction, and scale up from there.

 

Many publishers of late have started to work with content recommendation platforms like Taboola, Outbrain, and RevContent to increase visits and pageviews for their properties. What are your thoughts on this?

This makes good sense. Native advertising is a great way to guide audiences toward content in which they might find interesting or useful. Publishers have tons of content, so why wouldn’t they take advantage of this tool?

Similarly, PR agencies are finding native advertising to be an efficient and effective means of paid promotion.

 

Are there any elements of social sharing or virality you bake into campaigns when amplifying a clients’ content onto social platforms? What are some best practices on this front?

Storygize has chosen not to dip into social channels… yet. We’re focusing on the huge opportunity within quality websites and mobile apps. That said, social channels are a powerful distribution channel that just recently has added native inventory, so we may very well incorporate it soon.

 

How does content amplification typically work on mobile?

Native fits with all devices—mobile, tablet, desktop, and apps, too. We see around 600 million ad requests per day, 7,000 ad request per second, reaching 225 unique users, and its split almost evenly across desktop and mobile. Our creative automation feature ensures each naïve ad is perfectly formatted for every device. To get started with native, all you need is an image, logo, headline, and caption. Storygize takes care of the rest.

 

What are some metrics or KPIs you use to measure the success of campaigns, on both mobile and desktop?

Quality metrics can uncover things like average attention minutes, engagement, scroll, and virality, giving you objective measures by which to compare the performance of your content by what really counts—its quality.

Unlike banners—where there is an immediate action such as click-through, conversion, and a clear path to purchase—native content relies on subtler nods to prove success. Just because a reader of your paid content didn’t click through to buy your product immediately, doesn’t mean the content didn’t work. Native content is about brand impact and awareness. The conversions sometimes occur further along the journey.

Quality metrics prove the creative succeeded, the publisher was the right choice, and your customers reacted appropriately. These metrics inform good optimization and investment decisions, and show how the campaign worked.

If your content strategy is conversion driven, we offer tracking for this. Conversion tracking may be used to track users that were referred from your content to your site, and then followed through with an action (such as an email signup or purchase). This is beneficial in quantifying your traffic’s value and assessing ROI.

Our conversion tracking works for both owned media (content you write) or earned media (content written by 3rd parties).

Storygize measures the following across all devices:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR
  • Time on Page
  • Engaged Session (i.e. “Reader”)
  • Ave Engagement Length
  • Subsequent Conversions

An ‘Engaged Sessions’ measures the amount of time the user engages with content by tracking interaction in 5 second intervals. For a session to be considered “engaged”, the user must engage (i.e. click, scroll, move mouse) with content for at least 15 seconds.

 

There has been an explosion in the amount of advertising companies over the past few years, largely due to the deluge of venture capital funding the industry received. How do you think this will play out over the next few years?

Investments into ad companies has been driven by people spending more time online than other mediums—because that’s where advertisers can reach them. It’s still early days for content marketing and native advertising, so we envision continued growth for the next few years. Like all markets, we will eventually come to time of consolidation, but that is a natural process.

 

Lastly, what do you see as the future of content amplification?

Consumers are engaging more content than any other time is history; however, they’ve made it clear they’re tired of obnoxious sales pitches and interruptive experiences. Content amplification will continue to grow and evolve as long as consumers remain receptive to messages within branded content—as long as the content is good, of course. By “good”, we mean contextually relevant, educational, useful, entertaining, and/or inspirational. So as brands commit to creating good content, they will need consumers to see it, which will continue to drive the growth and evolution of content amplification.

 


 

We know great content inspires customer conversions. But how do you reach your intended audience at scale? Storygize helps brands connect with more customers by using native ads to guide targeted audiences to carefully crafted content. We measure engagement and optimize to goals.

How, you ask? We aggregate native ad inventory, automate ad creative, buy programmatically, optimize by clicks and engagements, and track subsequent conversions. In other words, we’re the most efficient, scalable, results-driven native ad solution.

Native Inventory Partners:

Storygize teams up with the biggest and best native inventory suppliers to cast the widest net possible for your target audience.

Leadership:

With deep roots in performance marketing, our founders–CEO David Osman and CTO Anders Bjoras–envision an evolution of programmatic native advertising where its more powerful, easier to use, more cost-effective, and ultimately results-driven.

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