Brands are moving away from the distributed media approach. And naturally, there are innovative companies emerging to help them take ownership of their conversations with their customers. RebelMouse, Crowdriff, ScribbleLive help brands create and share content, build a community around their brand, and centralize communication with their customers away from social media networks. While production of content has largely been addressed, content distribution is a pressing issue for many brands. Questions on how to get more visitors or readers to their content hubs come up more and more often.
The move away from building their community on platforms like Facebook or Twitter comes as a result of the growing costs of content distribution on these social networks. The increase in the cost is largely due to escalating competition between brands, and Facebook’s decision to put more emphasis on content from friends rather than fan pages. Earlier this month, Facebook also announced that it will start charging more for clicks that take users off Facebook. This is part of the move to push brands to spend more on driving users to their fan pages and in turn, increase page views for Facebook. As a result of the changes in the content distribution landscape, brands look elsewhere to find scalable, cost-efficient channels to reach users with content. Programmatic native advertising emerges as such a channel.
While it comes in many shapes and sizes, from content discovery widgets to in-feed native ads, the premise is the same – help brands deliver content to the target audience in a non-disruptive fashion. It is the ‘choice’ that native advertising gives users that allows for higher engagement post-click (nearly three times higher, in fact – CMO.com), versus disruptive forms of advertising such as banner ads.
Executing Programmatic Native Advertising
1. Pick a native advertising platform to distribute content.
If you are looking to align your branded content with a very specific publisher, you may want to consider working with them directly. If you are looking for a scale, audience targeting and optimization, you may want to look into a demand-side platform to centralize the buying across multiple native ad exchanges.
2. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs)
In order to make sure your native advertising campaign is a success, you need to have a benchmark of the performance you are looking to hit. While most brands want to see the results at the bottom of the funnel, they need to understand where content and native advertising fit in the sales funnel. Branded content is largely seen as a mid-funnel strategy or a tactic to tap existing customers for brand evangelism efforts. As a result, your key performance indicators should be:
- The cost of getting the right reader to your content (eCPC)
- The engagement a user shows with your content (time on site, social shares)
- The results content has had on the direct-response metrics on the site. This can be understood through path to conversion analysis.
3. Optimize the delivery during the campaign
Unlike sponsored content that goes up on a publisher’s property and is left there to do the work, programmatic native advertising is a powerful, flexible channel that grows in its efficiency the more work is put in to optimize it. Being able to buy across tens of thousands of sites, reach audiences globally, and understand the engagement from users that comes from every single domain, means A LOT OF DATA.
Some of the optimization strategies can be:
- A/B test creative and content to see what images/copy drives the highest CTR and what content results in the highest engagement
- Optimize bids to focus on exchanges that yield higher performance
- Utilize platform-specific optimization engines or campaign managers to add human creativity and tailor content delivery to contextually relevant environments.
While many brands are still in the early stages of embracing content marketing and native advertising as channels to reach new audiences, build brand awareness, and purchase intent, the channel’s success is hard to deny. It is no wonder that eMarketer predicts native advertising to grow at a rate well over 30% year-over-year for the next three years. For brands-innovators this gives a tremendous opportunity of getting an early mover advantage to build their audiences on their content hubs without relying on finicky social networks.