(This article originally appeared on Marketing Magazine.)
When the topic of native advertising was picked up by marketing and advertising publications in 2014, most people saw in-feed native ads as a solution to the ‘banner blindness’ and the monetization of mobile web. In 2015, the concept of native advertising continues to evolve. Frankly, even our own view of it has developed over the last two years.
Native advertising is not what many marketers think it is.
Most marketers are still trying to understand ways in which native advertising can be added to their media plans. Unfortunately, many of them approach it incorrectly. Yes, native ads have exponentially higher CTR than banner ads, making it considerably more cost efficient to drive users to the brand site. However, that is expected, given that these ads are presented to users in the content feed.
The initial reaction of early adopters was to simply redesign the banner ad creative to the native ad specs and continue doing what they were doing before — drive users to sign-up forms and e-commerce stores. That is not the correct way to approach it and here is why. When users consume content on the web and are presented with a sponsored message in their feed, the natural association is that if they click on it, they will be directed to a piece of content. If by clicking on a sponsored story a user is taken to a sign-up form he or she may feel tricked. This can result not only in high bounce rates, but it also can lead to a negative perception of the brand.
Where do we start?
The first step in bringing native advertising to the media plan is to understand the goals it accomplishes versus banner advertising. Quite simply put, in-feed native advertising is a super scalable channel for content distribution. Although I can go on about the value of content in creating a deeper relationship with consumers, that is not the focus of this piece. (If you are interested, you can read our article about that here).
Banner advertising has a different advantage over native ads: scale. While programmatic native advertising is a giant leap towards perfectly scalable new advertising channels, the volume of available impressions in banner advertising is much larger than that of native ads.
Here is how native ads can be mixed in with banner ads.
1. Reach users with content through native ads and retarget the engaged users with banner ads with a stronger call-to-action.
Once a user has come to your content through native ads and showed engagement (substantial time on site, social sharing), that is a strong indicator that the awareness has been built. If the content is truly value adding, the engagement should be seen as a step towards building brand affinity. Depending on the data that is used to reach users in the first place, this engagement with content can even be seen as purchase intent. This can be a perfect opportunity to re-engage them with a stronger call-to-action through banner advertising, or Facebook Exchange.
End goal: direct response.
2. Retarget users of banner ad impressions to drive them to content through native ads.
Due to the larger scale, banner ads can be used as a vehicle to get super granular in your first and third party targeting efforts at scale. (While native ads can target using third party data, at the time of writing this article, the scale is substantially lower than that of banner ads). Once a target user gets a banner ad impression, a retargeting pixel can be loaded. This cookie pool can then be used for retargeting with content through in-feed native ads. While site retargeting with in-feed native ads is very hard to scale, this approach ensures sufficient scale.
End goal: engagement with the content.
Download the high quality infographic here, or copy and paste the code below to share on your site:
<a href="http://imgur.com/XpqyPXk"><img src="http://i.imgur.com/XpqyPXk.jpg" title="source: imgur.com" /></a>
While native advertising is seeing tremendous growth, it will likely continue to co-exist with banner ads on the media plans for the foreseeable future, given that each one of them brings a unique strength to the table. With native ads it’s the deeper engagement and a channel to distribute branded content. Banner ads will largely play a role in additional scale to find users across the web.