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Native in 2020: Why It’s Still a Driving Force in Programmatic

StackAdapt has been a leader in programmatic native since its inception in 2014, and along the way we have learned a lot about this growing channel and its influence on the industry. We have also expanded our platform’s capabilities since that time to provide a multi-channel solution to our clients, allowing them to marry their native campaigns with robust display, video and connected TV (CTV) offerings.

When first released, native was seen as a revolutionary ad format, allowing advertisers to match the look and feel of a webpage, and introduce an advertisement that fit seamlessly into the user’s experience. As the outlets by which users access and consume media have increased, the desire for non-intrusive advertising has also grown. As such, native ads have remained an important element of the programmatic advertising landscape.

And yet, not all digital advertisers have found a way to integrate native into their media buys, missing out on a way to increase brand awareness, recognition and overall campaign success. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—harmonizing your native, display and video ad formats into a single campaign will increase your chances for programmatic success.

Native’s Success

Native is its own ad format, and yet is often categorized under digital display. According to eMarketer, 64.8% of digital display advertising in the US is now native—which includes a variety of formats from in-feed units to sponsored content—and the nonsocial side of the market is growing. It is projected that US advertisers will increase their investments in native digital display advertising this year by 20% to almost $53 billion.

Almost two-thirds of programmatic budgets go to native ads, and a lot of that growth is happening outside of walled gardens. With the many benefits to exploring native outside of walled gardens, it’s no surprise that native advertising is among the fastest-growing categories of programmatic. 

Native has continued to build momentum and success because the nature of the channel is inherent in a customer experience. Users are familiar with native ad formats and are open to engaging with sponsored content that relates to the site content they are already consuming. The beauty of native advertising is that it works with multiple verticals.

Native ads are very effective to showcase comparison lists of hotels, retail products, cars or any other item that may feature guest reviews. They are also very impactful in providing information on more complex products. They can effectively introduce a new product through listacles or brand comparisons, and set the stage for your display ads to retarget and reinforce brand messaging. Alternatively, if you are promoting a well-known product or brand, native is a great method of driving engagement and push towards the final conversion.

Native Creatives

There are many ways to get creative with native—leveraging different headlines, copy and images to really capture your audience’s attention. When it comes to prospecting, you want to try different copy options, A/B test which ones result in better performance. The data science team at StackAdapt has analyzed thousands of ads running on our platform and provided insight into creative elements that drive higher engagement. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

The Headline:

  • Your headline is your first impression, and there are no second chances.
  • Speak directly to your audience.
  • Start your headline with a verb.
  • Consider a full stop at the end.
  • An example would be: “Dog Owners: 6 Healthy Treats your Pup Will Love.”

Image Composition and Colour:

  • Ads that contain 2 or more people tend to earn a higher CTR.
  • Our gaze tends to focus more on people who portray closeness and connections—smiling faces, people engaging with each other or participating in activities.
  • Colour is important to influence how a brand is perceived and remembered.

Our data analysts have found that the colour of ads run through the StackAdapt platform have a direct correlation to CTR. For example, blue and pink have a high positive impact on CTR, where brown and dark brown have a negative impact.

Keeping these best practices in mind when building native creatives is key to ensure the success of your campaign. To make incorporating native into your campaign strategy even easier, you can repurpose your display creatives for your native ads. This allows for a cohesive, well-rounded, end-to-end campaign.

Native Campaigns

When setting up your prospecting campaigns, you have the ability to show unique creatives to the user, even if they have yet to engage with your brand or site. Creative Tactics in StackAdapt enables you to set up a single campaign with unique creatives based on a series of variables, including location or time of day. For those who find it difficult to come up with different native ads for each scenario, this strategy will allow you to build a single campaign with unique native ads.

Once a user has engaged with your site and you plan on running a retargeting campaign, dynamic native retargeting will allow you to vary the ads shown, based on products a user has looked at, geographical location and past purchases. This will ensure the experience the user has is specific to how their journey has unfolded as they have interacted with your brand.

Native is amazing for selling brands with an interesting, educational and entertaining story, so including native in your campaign strategy is a must. However, to make your creatives more memorable, impactful and engaging, you need to create a cohesive story across all channels. This means leveraging a combination of native, display, video and connected TV (CTV) to best capture your audience and drive engagement.

Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to learn more about how you can best leverage native in your digital strategy, and how the StackAdapt Creative Studio can help repurpose your existing assets into native creatives.

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