Snack-sized mobile content behind growth in branded content: Q2-2016 Benchmarks

As the publishing industry continues to rapidly evolve, we have noticed a fundamental shift in the way publishers speak about branded content. What we once referred to simply as native advertising, now encompasses a publisher’s complete content revenue strategy, from the promotional units to the post-click experience. Our most recent benchmarks reflect just that.

Polar’s Q2 Benchmarks: Branded Content Performance is a first-of-its-kind report examining not only click-through rates (CTR) and average time spent, but analyzing how branded content is performing across different device types, publisher verticals and geographies.

Overall, global performance was quite strong in the second quarter of 2016. The overall average CTR remains steady at 0.31% throughout the first half of 2016, while ATS dipped slightly to 2 minutes and 36 seconds in Q2.

Performance by Device Type

CTRs on mobile and tablet devices continue to see the strongest performance while desktop still remains well below the overall average:

  • Mobile performed 19 percent better than the average while tablet performed 29 percent higher.
  • Desktop CTR remains an underperformer by nearly 29 percent compared to the overall average.

Time spent tells the opposite story. While mobile and tablet performed 13 and 21 percent below the average respectively, desktop ATS performed 20 percent better than the average of 156 seconds.

Publisher Insight: Mobile users seem to prefer bite-sized content, while desktop users typically have more time to consume larger and longer content experiences. Desktop screens provide greater visual real estate to make content more engaging, thus leading to higher engagement times.

Distribution of Views by Device

Desktop browsers still account for the majority of branded content views. However, the trend over the past 6 quarters continues to see increased views coming from mobile and tablet. As publishers begin to develop unique experiences specifically tailored to smaller screen formats, publishers can expect this proportion to swing away from desktop.

Mobile CTR performance has fluctuated over the past 6 quarters and witnessed a drop from the first quarter this year.

  • One factor contributing to this blip in performance is due to publishers still actively experimenting and optimizing with promotional formats on mobile.

  • Although taking a dip downwards in Q2 this year, mobile performance remains steady and handily outperforms traditional display advertising.

  • ATS also slipped but this is likely due to the marketplace normalizing.

  • At any rate, readers are still spending over 2 minutes with branded content on mobile.

Publisher Insight: Mobile is increasingly the preferred channel where brands are looking to focus their content campaigns. Publishers should now be ramping up and fine tuning mobile branded content products and get executions optimized for smartphone experiences.

Click-through rates on desktop remained relatively consistent since Q1-2015.

  • The most recent quarter witnessed the strongest yet.

  • ATS on desktop has also seen substantial improvements in the first 2 quarters of 2016. Desktop ATS increased 23 percent in this past quarter over Q2 in 2015.

Tablet performance remains steady:

  • CTR on tablet devices has changed very little over the past four quarters.

  • Tablet consistently boasts the highest rates across all 3 device types.

  • ATS on tablets remains consistently around 2 minutes.

Interested in learning more about how different geographic audiences and publisher verticals performed in Q2-2016?