We're tracking native content teasers on around 20 of the bigger Swedish websites. Below is a summary of the first half-year of 2018 (January to June).
A half-year summary of the 200 mSEK true native content* market in Sweden
Since a few months back, we're preparing short monthly summaries covering the Swedish market for "sponsored content": including volume, top advertisers, key campaigns and other highlights.
This exciting segment of the digital advertising market is still growing and evolving quickly, and activity was at a record-high during some weeks this spring. That's why we decided to summarize the first six months in a more aggregate analysis below.
Key stats: 90 articles per week, >450 brands and a wide range of topics
In the period January through June 2018, a total of over 2,200 sponsored articles were distributed on the 20-ish websites we are including in our analysis.
Around 450 brands have been running true native campaigns during the period. Based on these numbers, we estimate a total spend on true native in Sweden during the first half of 2018 around 90 million SEK.
What is interesting is a declined use of campaign sites compared to earlier periods. Only around 10% of all articles were on campaign sites, i.e. instead of regular native article pages, the content was hosted on specific parts of a publisher website like "campaign.publisher.com" or "publisher.com/advertiser/...". Campaign sites are normally used for more complex visual formats like rong-read, full-width stories with animations or many big images which for most publishers cannot be realized in a regular article page.
As part of our frequent analyses, we are categorizing native articles by the 1-2 IAB categories that are closest related to the content. Most IAB categories are represented in the native market.
But from the top 5 below it can be seen that Business & Finance is the clear leader.
It is important to keep in mind that we just count the pure number of articles per category and not e.g. the number of reads they get (since we don't have that data...). In addition, this category does not only include "B2B" topics. Also articles by advertisers that tell a consumer-targeted story with a business perspective are included, like e.g. PostNord who ran a series of articles with topics covering how some of the company's processes work, what impact certain market forces had on the company and how it dealt with certain challenges.
Personal Finance (especially loan providers and loan comparison offerings) and Automotive are also clearly among the more popular and frequently pushed topics in the Swedish native market.
Most active advertisers and publisher websites
The most active advertisers include
- PostNord - a pioneer in the market that has run sponsored articles, across various topics and sites, since a long time back and with high continuity and turnover
- Tele2 - who ran a very intensive, multi-month campaign during the period
- Albert - who are an edtech-startup that has attracted investment from Schibsted, meaning they very likely get some favorable deals on their native buys that boosted their activity
In terms of budget, we estimate that the top 5 advertisers spent between 2 and 4 million SEK each during the first half of 2018.
At the same time, it needs to be noted that a relatively big number of advertisers - over 200 - only ran 1-2 sponsored articles during the period. This probably means not all advertisers are entirely convinced of the format and its advantages yet. Many reasons could be behind this, including factors like
- high budgets requested by publishers (for e.g. content production, minimum distribution budgets etc),
- different metrics and limited possibilities to measure performance and ROI and
- in many cases maybe also a focus on short-term results and direct conversions
As for the publishers, all top 5 sites are part of the "Big 2" groups Schibsted and Bonnier. Aftonbladet, Omni and Expressen published around 12 new native articles per week, while DN and SvD ran around 9 or so every week.
Below is also a summary of the top advertisers for each of the most popular categories in true native (by number of articles). Several advertisers like Postnord, E.ON or Skandia manage to address several topics at a broader scale with their native articles.
Distribution slowly moving away from 1-site setups
In our monthly analyses, we have repeatedly noted that a majority of advertisers run true native campaigns on only one single publisher website. Sometimes, sponsored articles are ran or promoted across 2 or more websites within the same publisher group, let's say on both Omni and SvD in the case of Schibsted.
Summarizing the half-year data shows however a small, but steady trend: more and more advertisers choose to run true native articles on a bigger number of sites or even through a network of websites. In fact, during the analyzed period over 2 in 10 advertisers have distributed sponsored articles across several sites or through a network like SUNT.
The scaling up of distribution through networks and the use of adserving technology is a key step in the evolution of this market. It adds efficiency and transparency, enabling better reporting and optimization around true native advertising. Ultimately, this will make the true native format more attractive and feasible as a marketing and communications channel for a bigger number of advertisers - and keep the market growing.
SUNT is happy to be an enabler of this trend, providing an adserver for scalable, efficient distribution of sponsored content that is now integrated on over 100 Swedish publisher websites.
Want to read more about the advantages of scalable true native?
Native: campaigning and consistency
We have also taken a closer look at the activity of the 20 most active brands over time. The chart below shows during which weeks these brands published one or several new sponsored articles.
It can clearly be seen that there are several brands using true native as an "always-on" channel, churning out new stories constantly and consistently. Other brands have used the format more actively during longer campaign periods, with several weeks in a row where new articles were published.
Since one of true native's primary goals and advantages is brand building, it is likely smart and advantageous to take a coordinated approach and be active consistently over a longer time period. This is ideally based on a defined strategy for content and native distribution, aligned with other marketing and content channels the individual brand uses. Only this way, the full potential of native can be realized as an efficient branding channel that can also measurably drive conversions "mid-funnel".
*For those of you who are not familiar with the true native format and our analyses: we define true native content as
- distribution of sponsored content on publisher websites
- that natively integrates to the publisher sites' look and feel (except for clear ad markers)
- where the content is promoted through native in-feed teasers which link to a full-length sponsored article that can be read directly on the publisher website