New report points to native advertising opportunities, hurdles for newspaper media

By Dawn McMullan


Dallas, Texas, USA


News media companies expect sharp growth in native advertising revenues over the next two years as cultural obstacles are overcome and best practices embraced, according to survey results released today by INMA and partner Native Advertising Institute (NAI).  

“Native Advertising Trends 2016: The News Media Industry” features a survey of 156 mostly newspaper media companies in 48 countries conducted in July to September 2016. Most respondents are members of INMA, representing the leading news media companies in the world. 

The first global study on native advertising for newspaper media is free to INMA members.
The first global study on native advertising for newspaper media is free to INMA members.

The 51-page report is available for free to INMA members via (member login required). 

“It’s the first-ever global study done on native advertising for newspaper media,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, and Jesper Laursen, founder of NAI, in a joint statement. “Our goal has been to shed light on one of the most important topics and fastest-growing streams of revenue in the industry today.” 

According to the INMA-NAI survey, 11% of overall advertising revenue from newspaper media was channeled to native advertising in 2015. That share is expected to grow to 25% by 2018. 

While publishers will manage this shift over the next two years, the data and case studies suggest a growing body today of actionable best practices. 

As of late 2016, 48% of newspaper media are already doing some form of native advertising, and another 39% are likely to add it as an advertising option, according to the survey. Some 89% of respondents say native advertising is important to their companies — with a plurality rating it as the most important new advertising source above programmatic. More than three out of four publishing executives surveyed are bullish about native advertising. 

Beyond the survey results, the report features five best-practice case studies from INMA members on native advertising: 

  • Helsingin Sanomat and how it marketed data storytelling tools for native advertising. 
  • Quartz and its award-winning Bank of America campaign centered on the World Economic Forum. 
  • Fairfax Media Brand Discover programme that runs like an advertising agency. 
  • De Persgroep and its research on how readers react to native advertising. 
  • Montreal Gazette and its native advertising campaign for Concordia University. 

The report was written by NAI founder Jesper Laursen and Martha L. Stone, CEO of the World Newsmedia Network. 

Other highlights of “Native Advertising Trends 2016: The News Media Industry” include:

 1. The role of editorial: How native advertising gets executed is as hotly debated at media companies today as print advertorials were in years past. Yet the INMA-NAI survey sheds light on emerging trends:

  • 42% use editorial teams for native advertising, 33% use their own native advertising studio, 28% use a separate native advertising team, and 26% use an external agency partner.
  • The fact that publishers already have general editorial expertise is considered by 66% to be the top strength for native advertising at their companies.
  • Yet 38% say the lack of separation of the editorial and commercial sides of the business is a threat to proper execution of native advertising.

 2. Labeling: A clear consensus among media companies that participated in the survey emerged about how to label native advertising in publisher ecosystems. Some 60% say “sponsored content” is their label of choice, while 24% label native advertising as “advertisement” or “paid content.” Disturbingly, 7% of respondents don’t label native advertising, prompting a chastisement by the authors.

 3. Native vs. traditional advertising: A slight majority of media companies surveyed (54%) sell native advertising in combination with traditional advertising, while others sell it as a separate product. Eight out of 10 respondents do not have a dedicated sales team for native advertising.

 4. Charging more for native: While native advertising is more expensive and more time-consuming to create, it also is more lucrative. Some 65% of respondents charge more for native advertising. Laursen said that in the early days of native advertising publishers could generate up to six times the rate of traditional advertising, but a saturated market is mitigating those differences today.

 5. Hurdles to overcome: There are hurdles to overcome with native advertising. According to the survey, explaining native advertising to marketers and convincing advertisers to tell real stories are the Top 2 challenges. Some 55% of survey participants said poor client understanding of native advertising is the biggest threat to success.

 6. Written content top opportunity: Not surprising for a survey targeting a media segment built on the written word, the INMA-NAI survey respondents overwhelmingly said written content was the top opportunity for native advertising at their company. At 90%, written content was far ahead of the next biggest opportunity by 36 points. 

Other report highlights include how publishers are measuring the effectiveness of native advertising and the most effective types of native advertising.

The Native Advertising Institute (NAI) is an international educational organisation on a mission to help publishers, brands, and agencies become successful with native advertising. 

About Dawn McMullan

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