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Should I be testing Native?

Updated: May 20, 2022

The effectiveness of traditional advertising has seen a steady decline of the past few years. Whilst relatively easy to setup and run, simple banner ad, just don’t work like they used to!

So this is where native advertising comes in. Recent stats from the Native Advertising Institute highlight how it is significantly outperforming the more traditional forms of paid media:

  • Consumers look at native ads 53% more than they do display ads

  • Native ads create an 18% increase in purchase intent and generate 9% higher brand affinity than banner ads do

  • Not to mention, engagement with native content is found to be on par with - or in some cases, slightly higher - than engagement with regular editorial content

So the question is, should I be testing Native Advertising? If you’re not currently running native campaign, then the simple answer is “Yes”. To be fair, native advertising is not exactly new but more recently it’s been growing in prominence and financial importance, and it seems, trickling into the mainstream, becoming an essential tool in the marketer’s toolbox.

Okay, so what is native advertising?

Native advertising is essentially a content marketing tactic. The objectives are the same in that you are publishing content that provides readers with value. In a nutshell, native advertising is paid content presented as organic content. It is hosted on third-party websites, the space of which is paid for by the advertiser.

The fundamental requirement of native advertising is to seamlessly integrate a piece of content into a targeted environment. Regardless of the platform you buy ad placements for, the content must appeal to the site’s general audience.

What are the advantages of native?

The key advantage of native is that it enables you to provide engaging content to audiences of publications and articles that resonate with your brand. In a consumer’s eyes, “engaging” is synonymous with “relevant.” According to a Reuters survey, 75% of consumers say that, if content peaks their interest, then they will engage with it.

Furthermore, Native display ads receive a higher click-through-rate (CTR) than typical display ads. In fact, the CTR is 8.8 times higher with native display ads, according to an AppNexus whitepaper.

So, how do I get started?

1. Set Campaign Goals

It helps be clear about what you want to achieve with your native ad campaigns. Typical goals include generating leads, getting more sales, acquiring newsletter subscribers or site members, boosting website traffic, and Increasing brand visibility.

Be sure to set your goals at the start!

2. Define your Target Audience

Who do you want to reach? Defining your audience is a key component of success. In most native ad platforms is possible to clearly define your audience but also crucially learn who is engaging with your ad and content so you can optimise your targeting over time. So, it’s wise to keep targeting minimal at the start. If you don’t pre-judge the outcome, you get to see who’s responding to your ads.

3. Select the Right Publishers

Platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola give you access to literally thousands of publisher websites that run native ad campaigns. As part of your native advertising strategy, you might choose to work with traditional or new-media publishers, or a mix of both. What’s important is that they’re a good fit for your native ad campaigns.

To establish this, look at reach: the size of the audience that could potentially view your content. Also look at relevance: whether the site’s content and audience demographics match the people you want to reach.

In addition, there’s filtering available for the publishers’ sites that determine where you’ll display your native ads. You can target publishers by location, device and more. Once your campaign starts running, pay attention to your stats, then tweak the publisher mix till you get it right.

4. Identify Valuable Content

Content is at the core of any native advertising strategy, but you must shift your mindset. Instead of thinking like an advertiser, think like a reader, and consider what appeals to your target audience.

If you aim for content that’s informative, relevant and dripping with value, you’re on the right track. If you don’t have the right content, create it and make your native ad strategy more effective.

Content to consider includes:

  • Useful content to educate and inform people, and help them get to know your brand (top of funnel)

  • Content targeted at lead generation for particular products or services, but still informative (middle of funnel)

  • Content to drive sales (bottom of funnel)

  • Learn more about funnels in our lead-generation guide.

5. Build Appealing Creatives

Once you’ve identified your campaign content, it’s time to create your ads. Titles and thumbnails are key. They’re your only chance to grab readers’ attention and make them click through. It’s worth experimenting with different combinations until you discover what works best for your target audience. The same URL might need a different title or thumbnail image, for example, depending on your audience or location.

6. Allocate Campaign Spend

CPC – or cost per click – is the amount you spend every time someone clicks on your campaign items. Start by identifying what your ideal CPC is, and your spending limit –how much you want to spend overall.

You can get useful traffic for a spend of between £50 and £100 a day, but at the start of your native ad campaign it’s wise to go for a high CPC. This gets your content in front of more people, and gives you more data to work with when you’re ready to optimize your campaigns

7. Track, Test and Tweak

Whether you’re running a native advertising agency like Nuru Group, or going it alone, creating an effective native advertising strategy isn’t ‘set it and forget it.’ It’s essential to monitor your native ad campaigns to ensure they’re achieving your goals. Check data daily, especially at the start, so you can experiment if things aren’t working out the way you want.

You can A/B test headlines and images, for example, to get the most effective combination for each campaign.

Follow these seven steps, and you’re set for a successful and effective native advertising strategy for improving brand awareness, attracting leads and making sales.

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