Thanks to soaring use of adblockers and the deflating click through rates on banner ads, programmatic native advertising has emerged as the champion among the chaos. But it is not perfect, not by a long shot. Companies that invest in native advertising as a means of content distribution (via companies such as Outbrain) risk the placement of their content below sites that lack contextual relevance to not just the publisher but more importantly, the reading audience.
In light of a multitude of scandals around this, experts have suggested a blend of programmatic into the mix to ensure placement and context match. The most important rule of native advertising, if you want it to work in a programmatic space, is to ensure that your content fits with the tone of the publisher (AP Style for instance) and is consistent with the expectations of its audience.
Before developing the content, determine how advanced the publisher is when it comes to native formats. Not all publishers will be able to support you. Due to their own restraints, some specialize in a certain type of media or ad format. Be prepared to tweak your content messaging for direct response or video storytelling.
Prioritize Depth Over Width
Sure, 9gag gets all the laughs but is your content’s message a laughing matter? While its valuable for some cases to feature with mass consumption humor sites like Cracked, CH and Buzzfeed, it doesn’t always work. Choose your feed carefully. Ads with a video or storytelling element will perform better on social feeds while products ads such as “Which Car To Buy?” are best suited for car magazines.
Location, Location, Location.
Does the publisher have a low bounce rate? What do the heat maps show? Choose your content placement on the digital inventory carefully. Make note of where the in-market segments you want to click to next and look at the publisher’s media kits specific to your industry to pick an option that leads to a higher click through rate. Placements on the right side may be cheaper, but chances are your mobile-first audience won’t even see it. Assess the options and the tradeoffs carefully. Seek value from the placement, not savings.
Measure and Reward
Does your campaign have an end goal in mind? What part of the funnel does the content play a role in? Native usually outperforms display when measured for click through’s and conversion rates. They also drive higher levels of engagement when curated to the look & feel of the publisher site. You should also measure social shares of your content, in that it adds value to the point that your in-market segment wants others to enjoy it as well. Expect native to be at par with social metrics.