Industry Exposed #5: PubNative “Native Advertising Is a Framework”

Welcome to a new episode of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series! Today, for the fifth instalment, we caught up with Ionut Ciobotaru, Managing Director and Co-Founder of mobile native publisher platform PubNative. Ionut is no stranger to us at AppLift since, before launching PubNative, he was heading up AppLift’s product team.

Ionut Ciobotaru is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Berlin-based mobile publisher platform PubNative. PubNative is the first publisher platform 100% focused on native advertising and available through and API. Pubnative is backed by AppLift with a 7-digit investment figure. Before founding PubNative, Ionut was Head of Product at AppLift, where he successfully developed the company’s product suite for publishers and media partners.Read below for Ionut’s insights on the state and future of mobile native advertising:

There’s a lot of discussion on the definition of native advertising. What does it mean to you?

For us at PubNative, native advertising is a framework, whereby advertising fits both the form of the content (the user experience) it is being served in, but also fits with the context (ie the content that is currently being displayed/read by the user). In this way it doesn’t disrupt the user experience, but actually enhances it.

Why is it so important to you that native advertising is seen as a framework, rather than as a format?

If you choose advertising as your monetization solution – then the ads become part of your user experience. As user experiences differ from app to app and from website to website – a format cannot possibly fit all of these use cases. In this case you need a truly native advertising solution – and that is a framework that gives you the tools to build the best advertising experience for your users while also delivering highly targeted, relevant ads.

Can you give examples of PubNative native ad integrations?

Our integration examples come in all shapes and sizes and include very diverse verticals: Pinger, HappyLabs, Spray Can, Tango. More integration examples can be found here.

What challenges does the native advertising framework bring about?

The main challenge that a framework has as opposed to a format is standardization. You have to know which format is served where and server the right advertisement in the right place. The second challenge is scalability – meaning that after developing the solution that can resolve the above task, we need to bring it to scale – educating both advertisers and publishers.But we wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t love challenges. 🙂

How did PubNative come about? How do you hope to make your dent in the mobile advertising world?

PubNative came about after working as a publisher myself (on the web) and then developing publisher-focused products for AppLift. We understood that, as mobile publishers have a business around making apps, they need the proper tools to monetize them and manage their inventory. Most of the solutions out there do a fairly good job, but after seeing so many ads, we felt that there is room for a better job.However, we don’t want to make a dent in the mobile advertising. We want to change it altogether. Both for the publishers and equally importantly for the users of the mobile apps.

In which types of apps have you seen native advertising perform well?

Native advertising performs well in any kind of app. However we’ve seen better performance in social and messaging apps as the users are very engaged with the application and consequently with the ads (as ads are seen as part of the application as opposed to a source of disturbance).

What advice would you give to game publishers wanting to monetize their apps through native advertising?

This obviously depends on the type of game publisher (premium, free-to-play), but as the market is mostly concentrated in Free2Play sector I will stick to it. For these game publishers, native advertising fits best if it is coupled with segmentation. We know that most of the users of these games are non-paying users. Most of the times they are bothered will all sort of mechanics to get them more engaged and eventually willing to spend.What if they are then not willing to spend on the game? They could very well be willing to spend on travel, or mcommerce? Then we could get them there in a non-intrusive way (for the gameplay)? We are already working with game developers and they integrated advertising in a very natural way either in the gameplay (as elements of the game) or along the gameplay (in pause menus/transition screens, etc..).

What do you predict will come next in native advertising?

I will keep my thoughts to mobile native advertising. On the desktop, native advertising is already doing well (Google, Facebook, etc..). First, I would expect the way native advertising is done on mobile to diversify in the following months to years. We will see more and more companies with different approaches and angles.This means that native advertising will grow in terms of volume – but not necessarily at the expense of traditional advertising (e.g. banners or interstitials). I would expect them to gain momentum along with the growth of the mobile advertising ecosystem.Then, as mobile advertising grows and matures the better technology will allow for better targeting/re-targeting and thus improving native-advertising in the process.Finally, and although this is not actually prediction, but a mere observation, more and more players from the traditional advertising space will move to native (MoPub, InMobi, Facebook already moving in this direction) and many others are expected to join the party :

Thanks to Ionut for his time. You can also check out PubNative’s blog for more insights on mobile native advertising. Stay tuned for the next Mobile Industry Exposed interview, which will be published in two weeks from now!