We conducted an informal survey with our native advertising clients at MGID, and one hundred percent of our advertisers said that “publisher’s quality” was the most important component for effective native advertising.
Hexagram conducted a study about the state of native advertising among publishers, advertisers, brands, and agencies: they found that eighty-four percent of publishers thought that native advertising added value for consumers. The research also showed that sixty-two percent of publishers currently offer native advertising opportunities for advertisers.
So, the question is: how do you get the ripe fruit of native advertising? We recommend the following seven strategies to publishers.
1) Search for individualized solutions applicable to your business model.
Before you make a decision about a business partnership, you need to select advertisements that are a good fit for your site—this includes the format of advertising, its placement on your website, audience breakdown, editorial strategy, and so forth.
It’s crucial that you choose a partner who can tailor individualized solutions and define a monetization model that will align revenue generation with your site’s core editorial vision. Otherwise, it cannot be called “native” or “efficient.” The best candidate is the one that has a deep understanding of the client’s business and can provide monetization solutions unique to only one particular publisher.
2) Don’t chase vendors who guarantee highest eCPM.
Even if the native ad vendor promises you the moon, don’t believe it that easily. The golden eCPM can only last for a limited period of time, and it usually only lasts during the initial successful stages of the campaign. It’s better to choose a vendor who guarantees timely payouts, and a vendor who is able to provide native content that will work best and look organic for your website.
High-profit advertising can attract a new audience by being bizarre or provocative, but in the future it will cause ad blindness and high revenues cannot be sustained. If advertising is relevant for publisher’s visitors, then the publisher will see stable and long-term earnings.
3) The smarter the placement – the better the result.
A smart placement of native advertising units yields good results for the campaign. It is shortsighted to expect high revenues from placements that no one can see or that are not geared for interaction. For instance, content recommendation widgets work best when placed under the editorial content. On the other hand, other formats of native advertising will require a more thorough and individualized approach to placement.
4) Label it!
These days there’s quite a controversy about whether or not native advertising is designed to trick visitors into clicking on ads. While there are many misconceptions about native advertising, it’s plain to see that, in order to be accepted both by your website visitors and the online advertising community as a whole, publishers have to clearly label native recommendations as advertisements and only partner with vendors that do so.
This ethical approach should serve as a foundation for any native advertising partnership. Labeling can be done in several ways – via caption with a clear statement, via frames and bullets, or by marking each piece of content with the source and the inclusion of the vendor’s logo into the native ad unit.
However, labeling alone may not be enough because it could go unnoticed. The look and feel of an ad can encourage a person to use a product or service. Therefore, the entire chain of content marketing must remain ethical from start to finish so that the consumer’s trust remains intact.
5) Diversify income sources.
Since there are a lot of spots where native ads can be placed, why not leverage native content from different vendors? Using different native ad vendors simultaneously is good because it will increase content diversity and engagement. This method benefits your customers and allows you to compare several vendors in real time to decide which fits your needs.
When doing this, consider the general look of your website. Don’t let your site be overcrowded with ads. Remember, ads are optional, but your content is not. In the end, everything should look natural.
6) Give vendors some time to adjust to your business model.
Some publishers make the mistake of rejecting native ad vendors that can’t promise the fixed, long-term CPM for publishers’ campaigns right away. It’s crucial to understand that, for each website, native advertising will show different results, since each website has different structure, levels of traffic, layout, and design.
Each factor influences the eventual eCPM. Give a vendor some time to adjust to your business model and, as a result, you will enjoy a high eCPM that will surpass your expectations.
7) Clear metrics and scale-up plan.
According to Spada and Hexagram research, twenty-nine percent of publishers currently acquire their audience through paid distribution or native advertising services. Of the publishers that do not, eighty-five percent say that they would if they could find a way to make a margin, which suggests that audience development for publishers through native advertising is in its infancy and has plenty of room for growth.
It also shows us that publishers who use native monetization solutions are, at the same time, the main consumers of native advertising traffic. As they have already mastered the usage of this tool, they can use it in both directions. If you buy native advertising to monetize this traffic, it’s important to discuss and establish clear metrics with the vendor and have your scale-up plan ready before the start of the campaign.
Publishers start to rattle past the position of evaluating their success via click-through rates, and tend to diversify the evaluation process by including such criteria as engagement, benefit for the end-user, interaction time, shares, and the impact of sharing. By utilizing tools that track these criteria, publishers can optimize and improve their campaigns and partnerships until they start to bring the maximum value to everyone involved in the native advertising loop.
Publishers have always sought the best methods to monetize their traffic and, with the introduction of native advertising, many tried to reach success utilizing this new phenomenon. However, some didn’t like the fruit they got from using native advertising. Maybe, they didn’t apply enough effort to reach the ripe vines.
All in all, native advertising is an extremely useful and reasonable tool, especially for publishers.
Shinkevich is a guest writer for Adrants. She is the CMO of MGID, a global native advertising platform.
Image credit:U.S. Army