Study: Native ads beat display for driving visits to physical stores

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Native ads are more efficient in driving traffic into physical stores than display ads.

That’s the main takeaway from a joint research study announced this week by native ad platform Sharethrough and location analytics provider Placed.

Placed utilized its large opt-in panel of cooperating users to track how many of them visited a store following the delivery of a static or video native ad by Sharethrough.

Users in the Placed panel agree to be tracked via apps on their mobile device, and Placed connects users’ phones to their desktop devices through its partnerships with cross-device identity firms. Conducted late last year, the research involved ads and traffic for an unnamed quick service restaurant chain, a national apparel brand and a major consumer electronics company.

The results indicate that “people exposed to native ads were 21 percent more likely on average to visit a brand’s physical retail location than those who weren’t.” On average, the companies said, the in-store lift was 300 percent more than a standard lift from other ads, across verticals.

The cost per physical visit was 41 cents, although the consumer electronics brand drove in-store traffic at 22 cents per visit.

And the restaurant chain found that extra sales from people propelled by native ads equaled 20 times the native ad spend. Sharethrough CEO and founder Dan Greenberg told me this was based on average total sales volume increases at times when there was additional store traffic from native ads, an inference that was not tracked by individual spending.

While the study indicated that native ads could have a substantial effect on in-store traffic, it also did not account for a variety of factors. For instance, it did not distinguish between which ads — or what percentage of the tested ads — were static or video, which were delivered to mobile or desktop, or which were the “last touch” before someone walked into a store.

Sharethrough CEO and founder Dan Greenberg told me to “take it with a grain of salt” that the native ads were the sole driver of the traffic, adding that there were probably “plenty of other factors.” He added that Sharethrough and Placed will continue working together in an ongoing partnership to determine how native ads affect traffic in locations.

Here’s an example of an in-feed video native ad on a smartphone:

from Sharethrough

About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.


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