Since we launched StackAdapt four years ago, native advertising has gone from a shiny new object to a common line on media plans. While most marketers have embraced the concept of native advertising, very few see it for what it actually is—a new standard for communicating your brand’s message online. Today I hope to share my viewpoint on the role of native advertising vs. display and when to use each.
Native Advertising, Not Just For Content
Search engine optimization is difficult because it takes a long time for content to surface, and social platforms increasingly deprioritize posts from fan pages making it very difficult to get reach on social platforms. As a result, native advertising emerged largely to address the need to amplify brand content on demand.
Fast forward to 2016 when I was convinced that native advertising and content was the only way forward. “Forget viewability,” I said. “If you care about getting users to your site, then simply pay for clicks. After all, an ad clicked is an ad seen.”
It all changed when at a conference I had someone tell me that they have a multinational consumer brand and they simply don’t need content. They just want their logo seen by as many people as possible to stay top of mind.
That’s when it hit me—until just recently display had been the only way you could advertise online, regardless of your goals. With native advertising now a major player, the role of display should be reconsidered in relation to the new landscape.
When Should You Use Display Advertising?
To me, display advertising is a great channel if you want to stay top of mind. You can measure viewability and the banners can be interactive to stand out. You should use display ads if you want your brand name to be seen.
It’s not unlike video advertising in a sense that you want the user to view the ad. It’s best suited for brands that don’t have a story to tell after the click or forms to submit. Often these brands rely on offline sales of their product.
When Should You Use Programmatic Native Advertising?
You should use native if your goal is to have a user perform a certain action after they click on an ad. For example, read a piece of content on your blog, sign up, or make a purchase. Why does native work so well for that purpose?
First, price. Native advertising is cost efficient. Native easily has 5-8x higher click-through rates than display, so if you buy ads on a CPM basis, higher click-through rates mean lower CPC. With conversion rate held equal, the cost-per-action, whether it’s getting the user to spend time on the content or to complete a form, will also be lower.
Second, attribution is made a lot easier with native because conversions are usually (and are recommended to be) measured only after the click.
Take a common set up that our clients run:
- Target a user with a native ad
- Drive him/her to blog content
- Retarget the individual with a native ad driving him/her to a landing page or home page to complete the conversion
With a user journey like this, you can see why the post-impression conversions that most display ads rely on often don’t provide enough hard evidence that they drove any specific action. Native ads, on the other hand, deliver concrete results through their focus on the post-click experience.
Start With an End Goal in Mind
To answer whether you should use a display or a native ad for a given campaign, ask yourself about your main goals: