“People pretend not to like grapes when the vines are too high for them to reach.” — Marguerite de Navarre
We conducted an informal survey with our native advertising clients at MGID and found that 100% of our advertisers say that “publisher’s quality” is the most important component for effective native advertising.
Another study by Hexagram conducted about the state of native advertising among publishers, advertisers, brands and agencies, found that 84% of publishers thought that native advertising adds value for consumers. Results of the same research state that 62% of publishers are currently offering native advertising opportunities for advertisers.
So, how to get the ripe fruit of native advertising, which is not always ‘low hanging?’ In our experience with thousands of successful campaigns for publishers worldwide we recommend the top seven hardest working strategies for publishers that will yield effective native advertising.
1. Search for individualised solutions applicable to your business model
Before you make a decision about a business partnership, you should clearly define what ads would be best suited for your site, including the format of advertising, its placement on your website, audience breakdown, editorial strategy, etc. When you have a vision, you should start selecting the offer. It’s crucial to search for a partner who can tailor individualised solutions and define a monetisation model that will align revenue generation with your site’s core editorial vision. Otherwise, it can’t be called ‘native’ or ‘efficient’. The best candidate is the one that can get a deep understanding of client’s business and provide monetisation solutions that might be unique to only one particular publisher.
2. Don’t chase vendors who guarantee highest eCPM
Even if the native ad vendor promises you the moon, don’t buy into it that easily. The golden eCPM can last only for a limited period and usually only during the initial successful stages of the campaign. It’s better to choose a vendor who guarantees timely payouts and will be able to provide native content that will work best and look organic for your website. High-profit advertising can attract a new audience by being bizarre or provocative, but in the future it will cause ad blindness and high revenues cannot be sustained. If advertising is relevant for publisher’s visitors then the publisher will see stable and long-term earnings.
3. The smarter the placement – the better the result.
The smarter the placement for the native advertising units, the better the results of the campaign. It is shortsighted to expect high revenues from placements that no one can see or that are not geared for interaction. For instance, content recommendations widgets work best when placed under the editorial content. On the other hand, other formats of native advertising will require a more thorough and individualised approach to placement.
4. Label it!
These days there’s quite a controversy about whether or not native advertising is designed to trick visitors into clicking on ads. While there are a lot of misconceptions about native advertising and mistruths as well, it’s plain to see that in order to be accepted both by your website visitors in particular and the online advertising community as a whole, publishers have to clearly label native recommendations as advertisements and only partner with vendors that do so. This ethical approach should serve as a groundwater for any native advertising partnership. Labeling can be done in several ways – via caption with a clear statement, via frames and bullets, or by marking each piece of content with the source and the inclusion of the vendor’s logo into the native ad unit.
However, labelling alone may not be enough, as it could go unnoticed. An ad that with its look and feel itself suggests that a person would be encouraged to use a product or service creates proper expectations so the visitor interacts with it intentionally (knowingly). The whole chain of content marketing must remain ethical from start to finish so that the consumer’s trust remains intact.
5. Diversify income sources.
Since there are a lot of spots where native ads can be placed , why not leverage native content from different vendors? Using different native ad vendors simultaneously is good because it will increase content diversity and engagement. In this way, you not only benefit your visitors but also can compare several vendors in real time to select the best options for you. When doing this, you should consider the general look of your website. Don’t let your site be overcrowded with ads. Remember, ads are optional, your own content not. In the end, everything should look natural.
6. Give vendors some time to adjust to your business model.
Some publishers make the mistake of rejecting native ad vendors that can’t promise the fixed, long-term CPM for publishers’ campaigns right away. It’s crucial to understand that for each website native advertising will show different results as each website has different structure, levels of traffic and layout and design. All these factors influence the eventual eCPM. Give a vendor some time to adjust to your business model and, as a result, you will enjoy high eCPM that will surpass your expectations.
7. Clear metrics and scale-up plan.
According to Spada & Hexagram research, 29% of publishers currently acquire audience through paid distribution or native advertising services. Of those that do not, a full 85% say that they would do so if they could find a way to make a margin, suggesting that audience development for publishers through native advertising is in its infancy and has plenty of room for growth. It shows us that very often publishers who use native monetisation solutions are at the same time the main consumers of native advertising traffic. As they have already mastered the usage of this tool, they can use it in both directions. If you buy native advertising to monetize this traffic, it’s important to discuss and set up clear metrics with the vendor and have your scale-up plan ready before the start of the campaign.
Publishers start to rattle past the position of evaluating their success via click-through rates, and tend to diversify evaluation process by including such criteria as engagement, benefit for the end-user, interaction time, shares and the impact of sharing. By utilising tools that track these criteria, publishers can optimise and improve their campaigns and partnerships until they start to bring the maximum value to everyone involved in the native advertising loop.
Publishers have always sought the best ways to monetise their traffic and with the introduction of native advertising many have tried to reach success utilizing this new phenomenon. However, some of them didn’t like the fruit they got from using native advertising. Probably they haven’t applied enough effort to reach the ripe vines.
Being a part of content marketing, native advertising proved to be a very useful and reasonable tool for all participants of online advertising ecosystem, and for publishers in particular.
Maria Shinkevich is CMO for global native advertising platform MGID
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