Is engaging with new and existing customers a top priority in your marketing campaigns? Are standard display ads failing to deliver the required ROI? Native advertising could well be the answer. 

Native ads integrate contextually relevant branded content into the editorial stream of high-quality publisher sites – matching form and function to enhance the consumer experience and increase ad performance. Despite its fairly recent emergence, native has quickly become a pillar of digital advertising, and already accounts for over 20% of digital display ad spend. 

The benefits of native are widely acknowledged, with the highly engaging format claiming CTRs 15 to 45 times higher than banner ads, resulting in 50% higher purchase intent. Native addresses the issue of consumer aversion to interruptive advertising, and the diminishing performance of display advertising as a whole. So with these benefits in mind, how can marketers master this innovative format and succeed with a native advertising strategy? 

1. Operate transparently

Native ads may provide valuable content but if they are not clearly labelled as advertising, consumers may feel they have been misled – eroding brand trust. To succeed with a native advertising strategy marketers should be transparent and follow the IAB guidelines, which suggest providing visual clues such as brand logos or shading so consumers know they are engaging with third party marketing content. Native ads should also be labelled using words such as ‘sponsored content’ or ‘paid promotion’ so users understand they are looking at paid-for content. Consumers are generally receptive to native advertising when it is clearly signalled and by following these guidelines advertisers can actually build trust with consumers and uphold brand integrity while enjoying the benefits of native.    

2. Enhance the user’s experience 

Native ads should complement the surrounding host site with interesting, high-quality content that enhances the user’s experience. Marketers should make sure that ads are appropriate and contextually aligned with the site ensuring that they don’t disrupt or interrupt the editorial content. Function is as important as appearance, meaning native ads should behave in the same way as the website content that surrounds them. As an example, when a user clicks on a native ad they should stay on the site where they are already engaged rather than immediately navigating away from it. 

3. Understand audiences

As well as aligning native ads with website content, marketers should make sure their ads are delivered to the right audience. By profiling and segmenting audiences, publishers can provide advertisers with specific audience demographic and behavioural data to ensure relevant ads are shown to the right users. Native advertising is widely used in the social space, where publishers can provide extremely detailed audience data. By understanding the audience, marketers can tailor content, enriching the experience and providing real value.  

4. Embrace automation 

Delivering advertising at scale is one of the biggest challenges currently faced by native due to its custom aspects. However the technology does now exist to automate the creation and delivery of native advertising, maintaining the impact while achieving scale. Native advertising works across the whole spectrum of connected devices – working particularly well on mobile where small screens are not suited to disruptive forms of advertising such as display – and programmatic technology can ensure native ads work effectively cross-screen, with 100% visibility, resulting in optimal reach and performance.

5. Set campaign goals

Native ads lead to higher engagement levels and enhance the customer experience but marketers must clearly define measurements to demonstrate the power of native, prove ROI, and drive investment and growth. The KPIs used will depend on the goals of the campaign, but traditional digital advertising metrics such as clicks, leads, and conversions don’t necessarily tell the full story, as they cannot provide a full picture of engagement. Before launching a native campaign, marketers should agree on appropriate KPIs, which could include number of reads, engagement rate, time on content, ad in view time, and social shares or referrals. 

Native advertising allows marketers to reach a relevant and engaged audience with captivating and value-added content without being intrusive or disruptive. By labelling native advertising clearly, making ads relevant to publisher content and audience, embracing automation, and setting clear campaign KPIs, marketers can master native advertising – increasing campaign performance while also enhancing the consumer experience.