Native advertising startup Nativo and VivaKi, a tech-focused agency within ad giant Publicis, announced today that they’ve formed a strategic partnership. Basically, VivaKi will be using Nativo technology to run campaigns for Publicis clients.
The partnership is another sign that the ad industry is becoming interested in native advertising (a loose term that basically covers sponsored posts and other ads that match the format of the surrounding content) generally and Nativo particularly.
Rishad Tobaccowala, VivaKi’s chief strategy and innovation officer, told me that this is part of the agency’s interest in “next-generation storytelling.” He suggested it’s a counterbalance to the digital advertisers’ focus on technology and automation: “A lot of the industry is working on how to get the plumbing right, but you can get the plumbing right and find that you don’t have the poetry.” The “poetry” side is where ad agencies come in, and it’s also why native advertising is important — “native is a way to tell stories.”
As for why VivaKi is partnering with Nativo in particular, Tobaccowala said that the big challenge with native has been achieving scale. Nativo solves that problem by allowing advertisers to run campaigns with multiple publishers, and the ad is automatically formatted to match the layout of each site. (Nativo CEO Justin Choi demonstrated the technology for me last week, showing me how Nativo can identify the different elements of a piece of content, then use that knowledge to reassemble an advertiser’s content in the same format.) Nativo can also run automatic A/B tests so that the most effective headline is used on each site.
The two companies have a relationship that started before the formal partnership, even before Nativo changed its name from PostRelease earlier this year, Tobaccowala said. They’re also connected through Greycroft Partners, which invested in Nativo and where Tobaccowala is an advisor.
Nativo says it has already run campaigns adding up to hundreds of millions of impressions, with click-through rates that are 5 to 20 times higher than standard display ads.