De-mystifying this widely spread native content stat

The premise of this oft quoted stat, is that people don’t read native content. And whilst I don’t argue the validity of this data, you have to dig deeper. The stat is highlighting the effect of paid clicks to native content, rather than conclusively saying people do not read it.

This isn’t a fair comparison

Normal publisher content is written on the fly, it is written to get in to market quickly, it is written to communicate facts and views from the source of the news. It is widely known that journalist now have to produce more articles than ever.

So, to compare that, to a piece of branded content, which can take 6–8 weeks to produce, has hundreds of man hours in it. Has had multiple rounds of edits and eyeballs on it. And also is launched in sequence with a wider campaign.

In terms of input, there are magnitudes times difference, you’re comparing apples with oranges.

The data hides the facts — WHY would they be different?

Secondly, the data shows people scroll 71% on ‘normal content’ and 24% on ‘native ad content’.

If I click on an article, I want to read it. If I click on a article which says sponsored, or paid, I still want to read that. Why would there be a difference?

It’s the effect of paid advertising clicks

What we’re really seeing is the effect of bounces, when you compare two distinct audiences, paid clicks and organic clicks, the bounce rate on the former is higher.

On native ad content, it is invariably promoted, through Facebook paid posts, OutBrain, StumbleUpon, Taboola. Audience extension is standard.

The difference in scroll, is the difference in the traffic sources. If you send 10,000 people from paid sources, it’s not unforseeable 30% will bounce. Meaning 3,000 people with 0% scroll bring down the. This drops it to 49% straight away.

A few side notes:

  1. I could have shared Nudge data, rather than a ‘data’ off, I wanted to show without that you can still see it doesn’t make sense.
  2. We held a recent Native Ad Talks, where the New York Times T Brand Studio discusses the process of producing the content, how long it takes, the work that goes in to it. Watch it here.
  3. Thanks to Jessica Kelly for prompting me to finally put thoughts in to a post.
  4. Now for my pitch: If you want to understand the full picture, our technology Nudge Analytics provides the full stack view of native content, as specialists in the area we know whether your content works.