Why ‘blending in’ is the new standing out – the new frontiers of mobile advertising


Patrick Hourihan, Research Director EMEA, Yahoo

Changing  content consumption habits, driven by the proliferation of devices, means brands are having to innovate the way in which they communicate with consumers, particularly on mobile devices. We looked at how consumers are reacting to brands’ new efforts to engage with them, what they like already and what they want in future.

Our recent research study looked specifically at mobile native advertising and reveals that, when consuming a stream of content on mobile, users don’t filter ads specifically from the stream – in the way that they do through ‘banner blindness’. The study used eye-tracking and showed that a huge 85% of users visually engaged with Yahoo Gemini native ads, meaning their eyes were drawn to ads within a stream of content. This is 21% higher than visual engagement levels with other types of mobile display ad. According to our research, smartphone users are 2.2 times more likely to agree that ‘If content is engaging then I don’t care it is an advert’. This is great news for brands, because it shows a real willingness from consumers to want to engage with brand content within their mobile feeds.

Speaking at a recent Yahoo conference session, Neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis told us “the brain has several important roles to help us get on in life, including how we process sensory information and deem content worth our time.”

The human brain adapts to the environment it is immersed in and mobile has opened up a new way of processing information. On mobile, the optimum way to digest information is through a stream of content. So we know a stream is the ideal from a user perspective but it’s also good news for brands. In a stream of information it is possible to serve advertising in a contextually relevant experience – both by matching the quality, tone and style of the editorial but also the format.

While, it’s important to provide an intuitive, seamless experience, tailoring the content to your target audience is also vital. In addition, content needs to be eye-catching. The old adage that a picture is worth 1,000 words could not be truer when advertising on mobile. Research found that imagery was important when capturing the attention of the consumer in a stream environment, with 63 per cent looking at images before words when browsing on a mobile device. However, while brands want to stand out in a stream of content, it’s also important to strike the balance with blending in to ensure a positive experience. The key here is providing quality content in a relevant format, in the right context.

This is where content marketing is coming into its own right now.

It’s driving users to click, and think differently about a brand – something which we are seeing through our powerful content marketing solution which combines Yahoo and Tumblr. There is a clear alignment between content marketing and native advertising and our research showed that content marketing mobile native ads deliver 72% more emotional response than other types of ‘in-stream’ ad.

The research has clearly underlined the significance of these two ways of getting your message in front of consumers – content marketing and native. With mobile advertising growth only set to head in one direction, it’s likely we’ll see a real upsurge in these types of digital advertising in the coming months.


Written by:
Patrick Hourihan,
Research Director EMEA, Yahoo

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