While native advertising is a popular means of raising revenue for publishers, it's not always practiced effectively. In fact, most websites that use native advertising find that it's not generating the expected amount of income.
About 2/3 of people who view online content will remain engaged for 15 seconds or more. However, only 1/3 of people who view native advertising content will remain engaged for that long.
For those who engage with native content, only about a third of them will read past the first third of the article. In the aggregate, native advertising doesn't appear to be successfully "tricking" people into thinking that advertised content is normal content.
Lack Of Good Analytics
One of the problems facing advertisers is a lack of analytics that measure return on investment (ROI). While many analytics tools measure clicks, they often don't measure engagement. How long did the visitor stay on the website? How much did the visitor read? Without that kind of information, advertisers could just as easily be linking to a blank page and see the same types of metrics.
Some advertisers might be tempted to use social shares to determine engagement. However, social share statistics can be manipulated. Also, it's often the case that people share something because they agree with the title and want to stay active on social media to stay relevant. It doesn't necessarily mean that they've read the article.
To make things even more complicated, it's difficult to measure actual engagement even by visitors who stay on a page for a long time. Did the visitor stay on the page because he or she is a slow reader? Because it was time for a coffee break and that just happens to be the last page visited? Because the visitor switched to another tab?
So How Can Engagement Be Measured?
So what can advertisers do to measure engagement? One way to measure it is with scroll behavior. If the visitor is slowly, but consistently, scrolling down the page, then it's clear that the content is being taken seriously.
The most valuable way to measure engagement, according to webmasters of some of the most viral sites online, is to capture second-by-second attention data. That can infer when the visitor is either distracted or engaged with the content.
Native advertising is a great way for publishers to create an income stream. However, like anything else, its effectiveness should be properly measured.