Native advertising. The buzzword is such a hot topic that even our popular culture has started sounding off on it.

But while native advertising is often wholly conflated with sponsored content -- those paid advertorial placements that blend seamlessly, and sometimes deceptively, with surrounding content -- some digital advertising buyers have a more textured view of what native advertising is and what it can achieve in its mobile incarnation.

Rubicon Project and InMobi just completed a global survey of digital ad buyers about mobile native advertising. The survey asked brands, agencies, agency trading desks and demand side platforms to disclose whether they’ve run or are actively planning mobile native campaigns; their thoughts about the key benefits of native; what aspects of mobile native they find encouraging; what they find worrying, and what their spending plans are. The survey defined native advertising as a “digital advertising method that lets advertisers engage with potential customers by providing content in the context of the user's experience.”

What did the results reveal?

Buyers recognize the potential for the ads to be “native” to multiple dimensions of the user experience . While the largest plurality of respondents said the most important attribute of mobile native ads is that they adapt to surrounding content, significant numbers also cited “adapting to specific audience attributes” and “adapting to the user’s physical environment” as key benefits of mobile native. Buyers appreciate the value of seamlessness of the ad experience that native offers and look at seamlessness across both content and user perspectives.

While mobile native is alluring, marketers are also anxious about testing this emerging advertising tactic . A significant portion of buyers -- nearly three in four -- said they plan to run campaigns next year, a rate up 89% over 2014 and 150% over 2013. But even in their zeal to test mobile native, those advertisers who will be new to it next year said they’re apprehensive about their expertise in terms of launching, managing and assessing mobile native campaigns.

Non-mobile native buyers also said an absence of creative standards has deterred them from launching campaigns. For those potential buyers, help is on the way: The Interactive Advertising Bureau is working to create mobile native advertising standards. And through mobile native exchanges, advertisers can supply creative components from a finite list of categories -- icons, banners and ad text -- and be eligible to run ads on a vast number of mobile applications that then adapt those creative components to fit their particular look-and-feel.

Some brand marketers are still unsure and wary of using automation when it comes to native mobile, in part because of a lack in standardization. But tapping automation for native mobile advertising clearly has huge potential. Brands leverage automation to buy highly customized mobile advertising at scale. Automating native advertising on mobile unlocks an entirely new opportunity for buyers, sellers and consumers alike because it makes it easy to create compelling ads.

Anne Frisbie is Vice President and General Manager of Global Alliances at InMobi. She has been working in digital media since 1996 and moved into mobile marketing five years ago when she joined InMobi. She is responsible for forming product-oriented partnerships with specific focus in the areas of programmatic, data, targeting, analytics and ad innovation.

Joe Prusz is Vice President, Head of Mobile at the Rubicon Project. He is responsible for driving the overall growth of mobile and cross-screen automation. In his six years with Rubicon Project, Joe has been responsible for growing revenue across a variety of the company's business units. He is an expert in advertising automation and in new market development.

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