Performance Marketing Expert

Navigating the Native Advertising Waters

According to a recent Association of National Advertisers survey, 63 percent of respondents said they plan to increase spend on native advertising this year. BI Intelligence estimates that spending on native ads will reach $7.9 billion in 2015 and increase to $21 billion by 2018.

In the Information Age, we are creating 5 exabytes of content each day – the same amount of content that was created from the dawn of man to 2003, per ACI. This means consumers are being bombarded with information, making it difficult for your brand to be seen or heard. Native advertising enables you to serve content to an engaged audience in an appropriate context; however, creating the content only gets you to the starting line.

As brands put more marketing dollars toward native advertising, many platforms have emerged that enable marketers to show their content at scale. These native advertising platforms serve as middlemen, helping brands reach their target audiences and share content on thousands of websites. With the number of platform options available, it’s important to understand what each offers and determine which have the functionalities and reach to best support your brand’s content marketing goals.

Whether you are just adding native advertising to your marketing plan, or if you have been using native ads for years, here are a few important questions to help inform your strategy, select the best partner platforms, and successfully navigate the native advertising waters:

1. What are your brand’s goals? It’s important to first determine what you want to get out of your native advertising efforts. Are you aiming to grow awareness of your brand? Are you specifically wanting to increase revenue? Do you want to gain leads?

2. How will you define success? Once you have a specific goal in mind, decide how you will know if your campaign is successful and identify your key performance indicators. Success could be based on performance metrics, such as click through rates, cost per attribution, or cost per mille. Or, you may choose to measure performance based on conversions. Either way, make sure you have a clear vision of what success means to your brand before embarking on your campaign.

3. Are you targeting a specific audience? Not all native advertising platforms enable you to target specific audiences. If you are only focused on a certain demographic and want your ads to only be shown to that audience, choose a site with the necessary targeting capabilities. Some platforms, such as AdBlade and YieldMo, enable you to target more specifically than others.

4. On which sites do you want your ads to be served? Is your audience primarily browsing premium sites? If so, consider whether you are you willing to pay more for the platforms that serve your ads on those sites, such as Outbrain.

5. Where do you want your ads placed? Consider where you want your ads to show up on websites. This could be at the bottom of the page, on the side, or in the text. Different platforms provide different options. Some, such as Sharethrough, even allow you to show video content.

6. How detailed do you want your reporting insights to be? The level of detail you require will likely be determined by your success metrics and targeting goals. As with any channel, make sure you know what insights you need and how you are planning to use that information and then correlate it to your platform options.

7. How many pieces of content will you be promoting? If you are promoting one to five pieces of content, your focus may be on quality conversions within a very targeted audience. If you have more than 15 pieces of content, a platform like OneSpot may best help you raise brand awareness and grow leads.

8. Are you promoting a mobile-optimized landing page? If not, determine whether the partner you select can turn off mobile targeting, and if that is a route you want to take.

9. Is it important to use third party tags to track success from an unbiased source? As native advertising and its capabilities grow, you may want to enlist a third party source for analytics. This will enable you to see objective results and tie your native advertising insights in with other channels, such as display or search, to see how they complement each other.

10. Is this my first native campaign? Native demand side platforms (DSPs), such as Bidtellect and StackAdapt, are a great place to launch initial campaigns. DSPs have relationships with other native advertising platforms and allow advertisers to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. This gives advertisers insight into whether a particular inventory source works best for moving forward.

Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to consider the vast number of vendor platforms for your campaign. The options can be overwhelming, so I’ve whittled down a list of unique platforms, based on Rise’s experience managing enterprise-level campaigns for clients.

Native Platforms    Notable Features
Outbrain                   Outbrain is a premium content recommendation platform. Its algorithms analyze online consumer behavior and promote relevant content in a non-interruptive way. However, there are no third party impression tracking or whitelisting capabilities and the platform has limited optimization capabilities.
OneSpot OneSpot gives recommendations for content design with its content sequencing algorithm. The platform is able to display specific content banner ads depending on where it detects the user is in the conversion funnel. This provides unique remarketing capabilities.
Sharethrough Sharethrough specializes in in-feed content placements. It has the ability to track earned metrics by tagging social widgets, urls, and social apps. It is more expensive than many other platforms, but will soon be available via RTB on some display DSPs.
Yieldmo Yieldmo is a mobile advertising platform that hard codes unique placements into publisher sites. This allows for a unique and flexible variety of ad formats and the ability to promote mobile content at scale.
Yahoo Gemini This platform can access optimization tools similar to display DSP offerings. It can manage mobile paid search and desktop+mobile native campaigns under one campaign.
Native DSPs Notable Features
Bidtellect Bidtellect has established relationships with most of the native platforms as industry sources. It is able to day part and optimize three ad formats.
StackAdapt This native DSP is the only one that can allow third party impression tracking capabilities on all inventory sources. It has thorough targeting capabilities and inventory sources, which it is consistently updating.
Zemanta          Zemanta enables you to see raw media costs from various inventory sources, unlike other DSPs that embed profit in CPM/CPC. By doing so, you must negotiate a fee to execute your campaign on their platform.

It’s important to note that while these platforms are incredibly helpful for scaling the reach of your content, there are still a number of human elements that are vital to success. The best native advertising campaigns are a mix of man + machine. While native advertising platforms can guide campaigns, marketers need to incorporate the information they know about their audiences, ads, and target goals to continually evaluate and update their programs.

By answering the above questions and understanding the capabilities of individual native advertising platforms, you are on your way to a well-informed strategy.

For more information on how you can optimize your native advertising efforts, contact Rise.

05/19/2015 at 12:00