4 Verticals Where Native Shines — and Why

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As overall native advertising spend rises year over year, four vertical markets stand out for their significant investment in native. Automotive, travel, health & fitness, and finance & insurance all increased their native advertising spend from 2016-2017, according to our Spend On Native Advertising Report (SONAR), which evaluated more than 600 brands in our marketplace. Though these verticals are vastly different in terms of products and services they represent, and the audiences they aim to reach, they all understand the power of native in supporting the consumer decision-making process.

The automotive vertical, an early adopter of native advertising, showed 42% growth in native ad spend. The manufacturing subcategory showed 56% growth during the same period. These increases reflect the shift in how people shop for cars: rather than going to dealerships and talking to sales associates in person, those looking to buy a new car conduct most of their research online. Knowing that consumers’ eyes are glued to screens, savvy auto brands seize this opportunity to reach them there throughout the entire decision-making process, with non-intrusive, in-feed formats. Native videos help brands improve awareness, and native articles boost engagement and facilitate consideration. Native display rounds out the consumer journey by building connections and linking consumers to the brand site or product page.

The travel category increased vertical spend in every subcategory, proving to be the vertical with the largest growth. Airlines grew by an impressive 519%, hotels rose 222%, theme parks increased by 42%, and tourism saw a bump of 39%. These numbers reflect how, similar to automotive, travel entails a complex planning and decision-making process supported by online research. In addition, the visual aspects of native advertising serve travel well. The non-interruptive formats inherent to native combined with the incorporation of beautiful photos depicting exciting destinations resonates with consumers. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, for example, found great success in a native campaign designed to bring tourists back to the island after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Prior to being exposed to the ads, respondents stated that Puerto Rico was the vacation destination they would consider the least; post-exposure, they reported that Puerto Rico was the destination at the top of their travel list.

Another vertical whose consumers conduct a lot of online research is health care, which had a 233% increase in native spend. Native advertising excels at grabbing consumers’ attention in the editorial feed, educating them on medical conditions and treatments in contextually relevant environments where they feel comfortable and are already searching for answers. In addition, native articles can capture the important safety information that is required, but not easily accommodated by, traditional ad formats like banners. These factors undoubtedly contribute to this vertical’s rising investment in native: pharmaceutical and health care marketers will spend $3.1 billion on digital advertising by 2020, up from $1.9 billion in 2017.

Native advertising can serve as a valuable resource to consumers in the banking and finance category searching for the answers to money-related questions. Brands use native ads to simplify financial products or provide advice on choosing the best insurance policies — in both cases, supporting complex buying decisions that consumers don’t take lightly. Because the ad units appear in the editorial feed of premium sites, the brand can potentially benefit from association with a trusted publisher and build trust with the audience that consumes the content. As such, the finance and insurance parent category has experienced solid growth year over year, with the latest numbers showing 54% increase in native spend.

For verticals with high-involvement purchase decisions, native advertising has proven to be an ideal vehicle to meet audiences at every step of the consumer journey, helping them parse through complex information and make educated choices. For additional insights, as well as tips on what to look for when choosing a native platform, download our Spend On Native Advertising Report.