A WORD ABOUT YOUR SPONSOR: Just because it’s “native” doesn’t mean it has to be boring or less than credible. That’s the message delivered in a survey of 5,000 Web users, roughly a third of them focused on business content, by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Edelman Berland.

The study found high levels of acceptance of what it termed “sponsored content” and “native ads,” examples of which were presented as “in-feed units” so respondents would react to their presentation and not to what was deemed industry terminology. Almost seven in eight — 86 percent — accept that native advertising is a fact of life and necessary if they are to receive free content online. Exactly three in five are more open to online ads that “tell a story” than they are to those that simply sell a product.

This story first appeared in the August 14, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

More than half of the overall sample, 54 percent, said they view a Web site more favorably than before if they consider the content they’ve seen relevant to them while 53 percent have a better opinion of the site if the sponsoring brand is an authority on the subject matter and 52 percent if the brand is considered trustworthy. Among business readers, 58 percent have a better opinion of a site if the content is relevant.

IAB and Edelman Berland set up a quadrant analysis in which various types of Web content were rated based on how appealing or interesting and, on the other axis, how annoying or intrusive it was deemed to be. While hardly surprising that pop-up ads were rated as the least appealing and most annoying, “in-feed sponsored content” ranked as the most appealing and least annoying, with expandable ads, video ads and banner ads all falling in between.

Not all the feedback from Web users was positive. Just 38 percent felt that the sponsored content added value to their Web experiences, although that number was higher among both business and entertainment users (45 and 44 percent, respectively) and lowest among news users (27 percent).

The study included some comments from the respondents. “Ensure that their advertisers are trustworthy and don’t have an agenda when users click their advertising,” one declared, while another advised Web sites to “include content from only reputable corporations.”

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