10 Commandments of Native
Native ads are new and exciting, and sometimes a bit confusing for publishers. It’s difficult to keep all the definitions straight, or even know where to begin when mapping out your native advertising strategy. Heck, it’s pretty tough to even discern what anybody means when they simply say “native”.
Over at AdsNative, we eat, breath, and sleep native and we’ve learned a few things along the way. To us, native simply means heterogeneous; ads are about the components that make them up, not dimensions that fit into predefined slots in a CMS. We focus on combining a headline, summary,visual asset, and brand information to integrate with in-feed and end-of-post inventory, but native can be anything you dream up!
Here are 10 things to keep in mind when going native:
Native is a Philosophy, Not a Format
The IAB specified six native formats last year. The most popular are in-feed, end-of-post, and sponsored content. The reality is that these types of placements just fit our current paradigm of web publishing but native has existed for a long time.
Any advertising strategy that respects and integrates with experience of the surrounding content is native.
Embrace All Formats
When developing your native advertising strategy, don’t restrict yourself to a few defined boxes. Rather, embrace the formats that fit in your current design, and use the tools that will help you best fill those placements.
Be creative and have fun, that’s what non-homogeneous advertising is all about!
Get the Basics Right
Readers like pictures! The visual design of your website is more important than native ad design. If your site doesn’t look and feel great, your ads probably won’t perform well. Responsive design and big pictures go a long way.
Keep your site easy on the eyes across desktop and mobile.
Your Ads Should Be Unique
You painstakingly choose every word in every piece of content you publish. Your content unique and beautiful and your ads should be too. Think about the format and content that will jive with your work.
Don’t be afraid to break the mold, your readers will appreciate it.
Keep an Eye on Mobile
Know where your readers are discovering content. Many publishers are seeing traffic shift from home feeds to referrals from social networks and search engines, especially on mobile. Single page placements are becoming increasingly valuable; publishers should focus on this inventory.
Place your highest performing assets in these end-of-post mobile placements.
Sell Directly (Leverage Existing Relationships)
Nobody knows your audience better than you do. Many of the brands you already have relationships with are producing content and trying to get it in front of your same audience. Their branded content on YouTube, Tumblr, etc is perfect for non-banner advertising.
Sell your native inventory quickly, and at high CPMs, by working with these partners.
Don’t Ignore Small Advertisers
Direct sold campaigns are an excellent way to increase incremental revenue but there’s a whole wide world of small advertisers that would love to bid on your inventory. You can maximize your fill rate and yield by accepting a range of sources.
Good content for ads can come from anywhere; don’t ignore the little guys.
Be Inclusive, Squeeze Networks
To increase the quality and CPM of native ads, publishers need to first increase competition for their inventory. Just as publishers have forced banner networks to compete, they should do the same with native networks. Squeeze in-feed and end-of-post ad providers to compete for your valuable inventory.
Don’t restrict your access to native demand by only working with one native network.
A/B Test Everything
Test your headlines. Test your background colors. Test your positioning. Test everything! Because in-feed and end-of-post advertisement interacts so closely with your content, engagement is largely influenced on how cohesive the ads are with your site design.
Small tweaks can make big differences. Always try various versions of a creative to achieve maximum performance.
Be Data Driven
Non-banner advertising is young on the web, and changing fast. It’s easy to follow your gut, but it’s also easy to go astray quickly. Gather metrics across domains, sites, placements, campaigns, and networks so that you can confirm whether your gut is right or not.
Reporting should be ad operations best friend, especially when evaluating a new advertising strategy.
One thing is for certain, in-feed and end-of-post native placements are great sources of incremental revenue and here to stay. They are also a great place to start experimenting with a native strategy, but they’re only just the beginning.
Have any comments or questions on native advertising? I’d love to hear from you: email@example.com.