GroupM to bring native ad business to Australia

It’s the industry buzzword this year but in yet another sign that native advertising could be here to stay, GroupM is set to bring native ad creator Plista to Australia to service domestic publishers.

After GroupM’s international parent company WPP Group bought the German technology company in January this year, Australia is set to be the first market outside Europe for the technology, which produces reading recommendation widgets similar to products like Taboola and Outbrain.

“This is a space we’ve been looking at for some time and there’s been a significant shift in terms of client spend that may have gone to traditional ad spaces now going into client-owned assets,” GroupM chief investment and intelligence officer Danny Bass said.

“As the media agency group we want to make sure we can help facilitate that.”

Plista places links below an article that point readers towards other content they may be interested in, curated, Mr Bass emphasises, by the media owner.

The links may be more of the publisher’s own content – helping to drive more traffic to its sites and keep more traffic in their network – or advertising, giving advertisers the opportunity to place contextually relevant ads within the framework of a story or content page.

Mr Bass said the option was becoming more viable as media owners sought new revenue streams.

“Realistically, a publisher who wants his integrity to remain cannot put another ad unit on their page,” he said.

“Most story pages now could have three, four, five ad units already. So what this does is create another revenue stream without creating another ad unit that can be distracting or cheapen the page. It’s contextually relevant, it gives the user a good experience, and it can drive revenue for a client.

“What we’re also seeing is that that revenue might come from search budgets that a publisher wouldn’t normally get.”

Providing full control to media owners ensured Plista ads would avoid compromising the reader’s trust, Mr Bass said.

“What is allowed on that page should always be decided by the owner of that page, so some publishers will have higher levels of comfort than others. But at all times, anything that is an ad or a paid-for link needs to be and will always be clearly marked as an ad, or sponsored content, or ‘brought to you by’.”

Plista, with its heritage in Germany, has some of the strictest privacy and data laws in Europe, Mr Bass said. “Much, much stricter than Australia. So everything is always clearly marked and colour coded as well,” he said. “The integrity of the page needs to become sacrosanct, otherwise what will become a very poor user experience will create backlash to both the brand and the media owner.”

Representatives including Plista chief executive and co-founder Dominik Matyka were in Sydney last week to discuss the move down under, but a date for the launch was still under wraps.

“We’re moving at pace,” Mr Bass said. “We’ll announce the date when we’re ready.”

For a broader look at native advertising and how it is being used by publishers both locally and abroad, have a read of this feature from the most recent edition of The Bulletin.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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