The idea of getting more people on board is a fascinating prospect for any web content marketers. A lot of tactics have been devised by webmasters just to get more visitors to their websites or conversely making more money by sending readers to other sites. Which often times is the reason why the large chunk of the cost of running a web-based business went into advertorials.
It was estimated that the total paid media would increase to nearly $600 billion in 2015, with digital and mobile ad spend chalking up $170.5 billion and $64.25 billion respectively of that sum, according to eMarketer.
You can imagine what would be that amount now in 2016.
Native Advertising, in particular, is a phenomenon making the way into digital advertising sphere but of which its concept remains fuzzy to many. It is as if users are yet to grapple fully with this method of online advertising and its attendant benefits.
If you are well stocked with the digital marketing news and trends, you will agree with me that native advertorials are in line to lead the future digital advertorials in terms of how businesses could reach more consumers through paid listings. Let me make a case for this that we can both agree on.
Ad blocking is a phenomenon that is growing rapidly among the today internet users, it was estimated to have cost publishers around $22b in 2015 alone, with its usage and the cost only expected to rise even further in 2016 given what is depicted in this curve.
There are 198 million active ad block users globally as at 2015.
Now, quite frighteningly, United Kingdom’s – who is a major spender in digital ad – usage of ad blocking software grew by 82% to reach 12 million active users in just a period of 12 months up to June 2015, as per Pagefair’s reports.
This is a stunning statistics that should give serious concern to those outbound organizations that rely heavily on traditional advertising like banner ads to reach their audience. You don’t need further proof to know that the future of page ad is bleak, which is why a new form of advertising like Native would inevitably come to the fray.
By definition, native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the editorial environment in which it is placed. It adjusts itself to suit the user experience as if it is another content on the site. You only know they are advertorials by the common labels that are placed on them like “sponsored stories”, “sponsored content”, “promoted tweet”, “ad”, “around the web”, etc. to indicate they are paid placement.
In other words, native advertising on Twitter will look and function like a normal tweet with only the difference being a label “promoted tweet” that follows it. While a native advertising on a publication like New York Times will behave just like any other news content on the site with only the attached label “sponsor stories” the difference.
These ads tend to do much better on mobile platform which displays content in-feed, where side-bar and footer content are often overlooked. Since native ads integrate smoothly with other content on the website, they have a better chance of reaching mobile users than any other forms of advertising.
Native advertising is paid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations.
Brian Clark himself went further by saying
Good native ads are content that’s about the reader, watcher, or listener. But ultimately there’s an actionable goal for the advertiser, like opt-in to get a free report from New Rainmaker.
You can sum up these two quotes by saying that native ads are by and large the paid content of another website which are of a equal measure of standards with the placement website.
Having said this, let’s see
What do the native ads look like?
Before going into how to use native advertising either as an advertiser or a publisher, let’s take a look at what environments you should expect to see any kinds of these ads on the web.
- Search ads – These are ads that are served through searches, consumers of these ads find them when they conducted searches, mostly through the search engines. When a search result in Google is labeled with something like “ad”, you should know you are seeing a paid listing.
- In-feed ads – They are stories that appear on a website just like any other content with the caveats to show they are being paid for.
- Recommendation units – They are found at the end of a story based on what you are reading or watching. They tend to work by telling you ‘if you like THIS story then you will also like THAT story’. You will find them with common labels such as “You may also like”, “Have you read this also”, “Around the web”, etc.
- Promoted listings – These ads are most found on social media or shopping sites where they are used to extend the reach of content or products. Some examples of these are promoted pins, sponsored updates, and those products that are promoted on EBay and Amazon.
- In-Ads – Any ad that is fully integrated within with some native elements in it that meet the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s standards. An example is a relevant In-app Ad.
Some of the best native advertising networks
The inevitable rise of native advertising means new platforms would spring up to cater to the interest. But there are a handful of networks in existence that are already doing great jobs in helping businesses reach their customers through native advertising. We are going to discuss few of them comparatively to know which ones better suit your business needs.
This is a content discovery network that serves native ads on big publications such as Eurosport, Aol., Tribune, MSN, the Atlantic, NBC, The Weather Channel, Business Insider, Mail Online, L’Express, etc. Taboola was set up with the intention of helping people to find what they were looking for on the internet. Its predictive algorithm will read your content type to serve you the ads that match up with your interest.
Be a publisher, advertiser, or agency, you can leverage Taboola to keep visitors longer on your site and in the process monetize their traffic, or getting to drive quality and targeted leads to your business placing your ads on other websites. As a publisher, you will need at least 500,000 page impressions per month to be acceptable into Taboola’s ad program.
This is why all of Taboola’s publishers are authority publications with expansive user bases that span across different geographical locations. Bear in mind that while Taboola deals with high-profile publishers, CTRs nevertheless are purely dependent on user behavior, niche, geography and traffic.
Taboola pays its publishers on Net 45 basis. The minimum payout being $50 which you can collect through Paypal and direct deposit.
Gravity is a recommendation engine both for content and native ads, they analyze what users read and interact most with to serve well targeted ads and content. Their interest graph would analyze web pages, status updates, tweets in real time to form basis for user interests and the most relevant stories about any topic. This enables them to serve personalized content to users that will pique their interest.
The great thing about gravity is that its recommendations are adapted on a per-person basis, not on popular views or trending discussions. So advertisers are rest assured that consumers would see their ads not because they are what most people wanted but because they have shown interest in the past with similar content. This type of targeting has shown to help publishers drive up engagement by up to +240% using this network.
You can find gravity ads on publications such as Toshiba, Hollywood Reporter, WordPress, Sony, Intel, AOL, TechCrunch, among others. You will also gain access to exclusive publisher inventory like Huffpost, Engadget, Moviefone, AOL, and other third party partner publishers.
Outbrain would amplify your content using some behavioral targeting to recommend you in many of the mainstream media like CNN, People, ESPN, The Daily Telegraph, ABC News, Atlantic Media, etc. Outbrain claims to have been installed in more than 40,000 websites, and that it has a global audience reach of 557 Million people per month, with the 200 Billion total recommendations served in the said period.
What definitely is clear about Outbrain is that, they take care about the quality of their content and consumer experience. A case abound in 2012 where they banned high-profile companies from their network who were spamming readers with misleading headlines even if it came at 25 percent reduction in their revenue.
You can count on their analytics to monitor the performance of your ads, you can also target geographically and drive organic traffic using Outbrain.
Some of the advertisers that have had success with Outbrain include McDonald’s, VISA, Reiss, Huggies and Shelter UK.
Content.ad is a powerful platform for distributing premium sponsored content that fully integrates with the editorial environment on which it is placed. That is, the native ads look exactly like any other content on the publication while providing consumers with rich taste of experience that simplifies conversions.
Some of the publishers and brands working with content.ad include Forbes, Fox News, International Business Times, Reader’s Digest, Reuters, The Washington Examiner, Just Fab, Lumosity, Teen Safe, The Zebra, Fabletics, among others.
Advertisers are given sufficient liberty to optimize their campaigns through various cost-per-click options that suit their budgets. They can set their rates and even put a limit to what could get spent to make sure they don’t go over their budgets. They can also pick into content.ad’s filter algorithm to make sure they are only getting optimally engaged traffic.
Users can also access content.ad’s advanced reporting tools to monitor their campaigns and make needed adjustments for optimal investment.
One of the great things about native advertising is the ability to reach mobile users with relative ease. Yahoo Gemini is a platform where advertisers can serve ads that are tailor-made for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. They have a specially designed interface for managing mobile ads separately from that of desktop ads.
To this, advertisers are certain to reach consumers at practically anywhere people search for things and where they read their news, check their emails, and many more. Since these ads are served across platforms including mobile phones, tablets and desktops, this gives brands the ability to reach up to 430 million monthly mobile users on Yahoo and their partners’ sites network.
Gemini comes with great reporting tools to make the experience worthwhile for advertisers. It shows the number of impressions for an ad and how many people clicked on it. There are other valuable insights including install-click rates, the average Cost per Click and the amount spent for user actions completed. Brands can use this information to monitor their ads performance and adjust steadily to improve their return on investment (ROI).
Native Advertising Best Practices
Native advertising means your ad is native to its surroundings and it adds value at the same time to the readers. Having known this, let’s take a look at some tips you can steal to get the best out of this method of advertising.
- When buying an ad pay attention to the Click-through Rate (CTR), as the click prices are determined by your CTR. The higher your CTR the lower would be your Cost-per-Click (CPC). Aim for a 0.5% or higher CTR
- Target each interest with a separate campaign to know which interests are reeling in the best conversions and which are not doing well.
- Create one campaign that targets no interest (e.g. My Networks) and allow their algorithm to do the optimization itself. This is to get the idea on which interests would be appropriate to target. Just make sure you limit your CPC to $0.20 so it doesn’t get expensive.
- For any reasons if you have to adjust your campaign, do not ‘pause’ your ads. You can just reduce your max CPC or daily budget instead. Pausing tampers with your ad impressions and pulls it out of optimization algorithm. Of course, you can pause poor ads, I do mean the good ones.
- Note that the ad copy is what is most important. Don’t dwell too long in crafting cute headlines to sell your ads. Simple style like Google News’s works best.
- Unlike social media, the image matters little. A simple image is a lot! Just make sure it is relevant and has bold color, nothing too much.
- Get to test multiple ads in each campaign. From in-feed to widget, test cross-platform ads (including mobile phones, tablets, and desktop) as well to see which ones yielded the best conversions.
- Ask to speak with a managed account rep if your ad spend is above $1000 per day. They can provide you with additional targeting options like age ranges, retargeting etc. to drill down on specific audience.
- Try to abide by their landing page and ad guidelines always to guide against ad disapproval. Some of their rules may not be as strict as other ad networks, but you could get burnt if you violate as simple a rule as not using ad label in an image. You might want to read the latest FTC’s guidelines to get yourself acquainted with these caveats.
These are the tips to keep on top of the mind if you plan to leverage native advertising for your business. There are many more to discover as you get along in your campaigns which will be all due to your individual experience anyway. I suppose we have you covered to get started with the above.
Over to you,
What is your own view about the native advertising? In what ways has this marketing method helped to bring you more customers, and what platforms did you leverage to generate the sales?