Decoding Native Ad Stack: Tech Bytes From Casey Wuestefeld, VP Of Operations At Nativo

April 13, 2017 - Originally published by


Nativo, the leading native advertising technology platform, released a pioneering study in native ad spend category earlier this week. The study, which is the first of its kind in the industry, aims to make digital marketers aware of how specific verticals have allocated their native investments in the last three years. We caught up with Casey Wuestefeld, VP of Operations at Nativo to enlighten us about the latest trends in native ad technologies and their impact on branded content syndication.

MTS: What are the various technologies today that are featured in the native ad stack?

Casey Wuestefeld (Casey): While native ad stacks vary widely among brands and publishers based on their specific needs, they incorporate most of the technologies that have evolved over time across the digital landscape.They typically include a combination of the following:

  • Native Ad Server – publisher ad server
  • Dynamic Allocation – alternative to header bidding
  • Supply Side Platform (SSP)
  • Private Marketplaces
  • Native Ad Exchange
  • Dynamic Creative Optimization
  • Measurement Suite
  • Self-Serve Tools
  • Advanced API connections

As organizations’ native strategies become more mature and sophisticated, we have also seen companies incorporate Data Management Platform capabilities along with advanced attribution. These help them better understand campaign performance and which audiences are engaging with their distributed content.

MTS: What should an ideal native ad tech stack look like in 2017— For advertisers and for publishers?


– For advertisers

Advertisers’ ad servers and APIs should be completely connected to the buying platform of their choice and connect to high quality, targeted supply. This will enable them to support all native creative formats, and scale investment with efficiency and control that can be optimized for performance.

– For publishers

Publishers’ ad servers and SSPs should be a unified publisher toolkit that enables all selling channels, including, fully managed deals, PMP/programmatic direct deals, alliances, preferred deals, indirect monetization, and auctions. Publishers should also invest in API hooks to all buying platforms that bring added convenience and control for their buyers.

MTS: How can native advertisers benefit from using automation for branded content syndication?

Casey: Branded content has become a major source of consumer engagement for brands because of the high-impact, immersive and non-disruptive nature of the format. Just look at what Netflix has done with The New York Times (Orange is the New Black) and Wall Street Journal (Narcos)–readers can enjoy these exemplary instances of entertaining and valuable pieces of content when they visit these premium sites and have come to expect a great content experience.

The problem is that typically, custom executions and scale are at odds with each other, and this has limited advertisers’ and publishers’ ability to efficiently reach broader audiences in a way that drives campaign KPIs and ultimately larger brand objectives.

The good news is both brands and publishers have increasingly robust tools to make this happen as programmatic native and native video take off, and it affords a variety of benefits such as scale, workflow efficiencies, standardized measurement, deeper consumer insights, and better optimization capabilities in real-time.

As a result of automating branded content syndication, we have seen brands experience unprecedented levels of brand lift across the purchase funnel from top level awareness all the way through to purchase intent.

We will be publishing new research studies over the next several months that provide striking evidence of this.

MTS: What are the key analytics/metrics that advertisers should have in mind before investing in native ad technologies?

Casey: Each brand is going to have to evaluate which metrics provides the best indication of driving their business objectives. For example, a CPG advertiser will express entirely different measurement priorities from a B2B advertiser.

The sad truth is that impressions and clicks have dominated every brand marketers’ world, and it’s time for the industry to ditch them for good as primary KPIs. They provide little value to today’s modern, accountable marketer.

Instead, measurement needs to be approached more holistically and digital marketers need to decide what really matters. From a more strategic standpoint, for example, what digital behaviors have reliably indicated purchase intent?

There are dozens of metrics available to marketers today that can elevate their understanding of consumers. Post-click engagement and user interaction with branded content serve as great leading indicators. Additionally, average time on content, actions taken, and scroll metrics all play a deeper role in validating the value of the brand’s message to the end user.

Brand health KPIs (awareness, recall, affinity, purchase intent, etc.) require media partners participation but today’s measurement tools make all this possible. Finally, Awareness and Purchase intent really help brands better understand what motivates consumers to make buying decisions.

No matter what measurement tools marketers have, humans ultimately are the best sources of insight and judgment. For example, time on content is great but if there’s no scroll interaction that particular user could have just left their browser window open. That’s why it’s just as important to invest in ramping skills with any new emerging metrics and channels.

MTS: What message do you have for advertisers and publishers who are yet to invest in Native Advertising?

Casey: The advice is different between advertisers and publishers, but the one uniting objective is to elevate the user experience as the main consideration alongside revenue (for publishers) and ad performance (for advertisers). If the user experience is interrupted, it will damage the publisher’s relationship with its readers and impinge on the performance of the ad.

Digital advertising has been making those mistakes for almost two decades now, and native represents an opportunity to finally get it right.  For any native advertising campaign to deliver on this promise, it needs to prioritize quality and context in all parts of the campaign.

For advertisers, this means creating quality ads that make sense in the context of the publications where they will appear and selecting quality, viewable inventory that provides the proper context for their brand’s messaging. In the wake of recent brand safety crises, advertisers are learning to ask deeper questions to identify the most efficient path to unique inventory, understanding where impressions are being resold and pushing back against the hidden fees that reduce working media.

For publishers, it means selecting a quality tech partner that is purpose-built to support their business, as opposed to those built to opportunistically fill an emerging market need. It means gaining better context into bid landscapes and an understanding of where the demand is coming from. In the wake of the ad blocking crisis, publishers are learning to look beyond revenue to how inventory is being leveraged.

Native is unique in the fact that it only works when everyone wins: The consumer experience must be respected, advertisers need have real, measurable engagement with their audiences, and publishers need to be able to monetize.

MTS: Thank You, Casey, for answering our queries. This was very informative and we hope to see you back on MarTech Series very soon.