April 24, 2014 Last Updated 8:25 am

AOL wants you to read native advertising on your phone, rolls out new mobile native unit

It is hard for me to imagine spending time reading native advertising on my iPhone. My own smartphone is used to grab bits of information, and it is rare that I read a news story completely on my phone, but clearly many do this. So why not read branded content on your phone? (actually, why read branded content anywhere?)

AOL is fully on the native advertising bandwagon as it introduced a new mobile native ad unit. Here is the press release:

NEW YORK, NY – April 24, 2014 — AOL Inc. today announced the rollout of a new mobile native unit that will allow marketers to easily and cost effectively run native advertising across premium mobile sites and apps. The unit is designed to engage users within the mobile content experience and ultimately increase the install rate of an advertiser’s mobile or tablet apps.

The new native unit currently reaches 86 million users per month*, via AOL owned-and-operated mobile properties and apps such as TechCrunch, Huffington Post, DailyFinance, Engadget, AOL Mail and Autoblog as well as through a growing number of third-party publishing partners. The mobile download app unit integrates into the look and feel of these different properties, guaranteeing a “premium” environment from which consumers can download apps. It is also being rolled out globally to the company’s vast network of third party publishers.

Reaching New Audiences throughout the Vast Mobile Landscape

Native advertising within the mobile environment provides an easy, cost-effective and content-aware way for brands to engage with potential customers. However, until recently, brands have faced numerous challenges when trying to reach mobile consumers on the global, open Web. First, the few ecosystems available to brands seeking to reach a global audience “natively” are closed environments. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of publisher sites simply don’t have the resources to create their own native units for mobile and thus have not been able to tap into this highly engaging market opportunity. AOL’s new ad unit will allow big publishers and smaller ones alike to take advantage of this form of advertising.

“The launch of mobile native ads is a great opportunity for publishers who want to reach consumers where they are spending most of their time consuming editorial content,” said Peter Hamilton, CEO, MobileAppTracking. “AOL’s mobile native offering is a mobile-first solution that will help publishers make more money and add more value to brands’ mobile advertising campaigns.”

“Native mobile ads are just better than mobile banner ads — they’re easier to read, less annoying, and we get fewer accidental clicks,” stated Tyler Davis, Partner of digital agency, Chong + Koster. “So when our AOL team told us they’re rolling out native mobile ads to their quality publishers like Huffington Post and TechCrunch, we were more than just excited, we wanted to be among the first advertisers to run these ads.”

Early Results

Since launching on a number of AOL Owned-and-Operated properties four months ago, clients have yielded post-click conversion rates that are generally at least six times higher than those on clicks from a smartphone display banner: while average conversion rates on banners ranged between .8 and 1.2%, conversion rates on native averaged between 6 and 8%.** According to Chad Gallagher, Director of Mobile at AOL Platforms, “These results from native aren’t surprising. Native advertising is a more interactive way of experiencing ads than a traditional banner ad at the bottom of a smartphone screen. This is another data point underscoring that brands and publishers alike are interested in premium ad experiences that complement the content on the device.”

Expanding Financial Opportunities for Publishers

Using native ads, publishers have the opportunity to gain access to a new revenue source outside of the traditional 320 X 50 banner. Moreover, native ad RPMs tend to be significantly higher than those for display banners. For instance, RPMs increased 61% at AOL’s Daily Finance after the site incorporated native advertising on mobile.

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