10 Key Concepts that Will Make You a Better Native Advertiser

Native ads are the chameleons of the advertising world. Unlike traditional banner ads that distract and interrupt customers, native ads actually provide a seamless experience for readers.

It does this by mimicking the form of the content found in the environment it is in. For example, a native ad on Twitter would look like a normal tweet while a native ad on The New York Times would look like any regular news or feature article. That being said, native ads are also supposed to be contextually relevant to the audience by providing helpful information and not just plain advertisements.

Using native ads is a great strategy if you want to deliver your content to the right audience. If you’re considering adding his to your digital marketing arsenal then here are ten key concepts that you might find useful and will make you a better native advertiser:

1. Native Ads Work Best When They Quickly Capture the Interest of the Audience

Consumer behavior often dictates what kind of advertisements work and what doesn’t. Lately, behavior changes like banner blindness and shrinking attention spans make it apparent that advertisers only have a few second to grab the attention of their audience and keep it.

What sets apart native ads from traditional ones is that apart from physically blending with the design sensibility of the website or platform they are placed in, their content is actually relevant to the interests of the audience. Therefore, more people are likely to interact with native ads than traditional text ads or image ads.

In fact according a study made by CMO.com, “Consumers are 25 percent more likely to look at a native ad than at a banner, and they look at them 53% more frequently. They check native ads out 4.1 times per session on average, versus 2.7 times for banners.”

2. There are Six Different Types of Native Ads

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (AIB), the six different types of native ads are:

  • In Feed Units. These are stories that look like they are part of the news feed.
  • Paid Search Units. These are ads that appear in search
  • Recommendation Units. These are paid content recommendations based on what you are reading and your searches
  • Promoted Listings. These are products promoted on such sites as Etsy or Amazon
  • In-Ad (IAB Standard) with Native Element Units
  • Custom / “Can’t Be Contained”

The takeaway from this is that you can (and should) leverage these different types of native ads to your advantage. Perform split-testing and see which types work best for your brand.

3. You’re Not Supposed to Promote Your Company in Native Ads

It can’t be stressed enough that native ads don’t work like traditional banner ads. Take your product, services, and brand out of the spotlight and replace it with the goal of meeting the needs of your prospects.

A good native ad sparks the interest of, informs, and/or provides value to the audience. It strays away from hard selling and instead aims to generate leads through that particular piece of content. Your content is the star here and showcases your companies expertise as well as your willingness to help your potential customer first.

We’re not saying remove any mention of your company or product – those can be mentioned in your content, but they definitely shouldn’t be the start of your native ad content.

4. Follow Guidelines In Place for Native Ads

Native ads have become a hot topic in the past years so much so that the IAB and its Native Advertising Task Force released the “IAB Native Advertising Playbook.” The paper aimed to provide the industry with a framework for thinking about and discussing current native advertising options with the goal of eliminating marketplace confusion and thereby helping sellers sell and buyers buy.

The Playbook also cited these considerations for native advertisers:

  • Form – How does the ad fit with the overall page design? Is it in the viewer’s activity stream or not in-stream?
  • Function – Does the ad function like the other elements on the page in which it is placed? Does it deliver the same type of content experience (e.g., a video on a video page or story among stories) or is it different?
  • Integration – How well do the ad unit’s behaviors match those of the surrounding content? Are they the same, e.g., linking to an on-site story page, or are new ones introduced?
  • Buying & Targeting – Is the ad placement guaranteed on a specific page, section, or site, or will it be delivered across a network of sites? What type of targeting is available?
  • Measurement – What metrics are typically used to judge success? Are marketers more likely to use top-of-the-funnel brand engagement metrics (e.g., views, likes, shares, time spent) or bottom funnel ones (e.g., sale, download, data capture, register, etc.)
  • Disclosure – How is this ad product identified as such?

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5. Native Advertisers are Encouraged to Clearly State the Nature of their Content

Apart from setting industry standards, the IAB also advocates for transparency when it comes to the publishing of native ads.

According to them, native ads need to use language that conveys that the advertising has been paid for, thus making it an advertising unit, even if that unit does not contain traditional promotional advertising messages.

Moreover, the disclosure text should be large and visible enough for a consumer to notice it in the context of a given page and/or relative to the device that the ad is being viewed on.

Regardless of context, a reasonable consumer should be able to distinguish between what is paid advertising vs. what is publisher editorial content.

6. Monitoring Metrics is Important

As with any digital marketing tool, the only way to know if your native ads are doing well is by monitoring and measuring metrics like click-through rates (CTRs), cost per leads/sales, earnings per leads/sales. By monitoring your costs and earnings you’re able to keep your finger on the pulse of how well your native content is effecting your overall business goals.

7. Serve Up Content that Your Audience Expects

Native advertising is all about providing a seamless experience to your audience. Therefore your content has to have a similar look and feel to the organic content of the site you are advertising on. This includes the images, headline, and your ad copy.

When creating your native content it is important to take in to account the potential customer you’re trying to attract. The type of content that will attract a 30-50 year old work at home mom is much different than the type of content that will attract the corporate ladder climbing mom.

8. Headlines are Everything

Truthfully, it comes down to how compelling your copy is. The headline will still be the one to catch the attention of you readers. An excellent headline authentically describes the content in an attractive, but honest and relevant way.

It will also help if you use numbers in your headline since on a psychological level, numbers promise a degree of structure and predictability to a piece of content, reducing the reader’s anxiety about clicking on it. Hence the reason “Listicles” are all the rage on popular sites like Buzzfeed.

Finally, consider using power words. These are vibrant, exciting, and colorful words that make your headline catchy.

9. Native Ads are Best for Sharing Your Company’s Expertise to the World

According to IAB’s recent consumer survey on sponsored in-feed content, 82 percent of the respondents expressed that “subject matter expertise” is a critical factor in how they responded to native ads.

What this means is that the most relevant and effective native ads are those that steer clear from outright marketing but instead tries to become a resource for consumers. Native ads work best when they help consumers make informed decisions through content like data, case studies, anecdotes, and the like.

10. It is Crucial to Partner with Great Publishers

According to the same IAB report, native ads receive a 33 percent boost in response when they appear on credible apps and websites. So be critical when it comes to choosing the publishers you want your native ads to appear in and you’ll be reaping the rewards soon enough.

If you’re planning to self-publish your native ad content be sure the design of the site is reputable. Take time to setup a premium theme and all other elements that increase a sites trust and authority. You’ll also want to make sure your advertorial is compliant with FTC and Ad Network Guidelines. Be sure to read this post on FTC Compliance with Native Ad Content