Native Advertising Best Practices for Optimizing ROI

Native advertising is appearing on social media websites, media outlets, video sites and more. They are everywhere. This makes sense when you consider that spending on native advertising is expected to reach $4.57 billion – outpacing traditional online advertising – by 2017. More than 75 percent of publishers offer some form of native advertising, and brands are seeking the native advertising best practices that will boost ROI and show positive results quickly.

Native Advertising Best Practices

As you begin work to develop your native advertising campaign, or as you tweak your existing campaign, you should pay attention to the techniques that have already been tested and turned out successful.

Build a Campaign Strategy

Approach native advertising with careful planning and deliberation. Start with a goal in mind. Identify your audience and their location online. You can’t measure your returns and results without clearly identifying your objectives. Set realistic goals with the understanding that native advertising builds relationships and long-term ROI. You may not see overnight success.

Check out the native ads your competition are using. Look for overlaps in your target audiences and marketing messages. Exploit openings your competition has overlooked and continually benchmark against your competitors to stay aware of the marketplace.

Remain Transparent and Ethical

Native advertising best practices hinge on building a relationship and establishing trust with consumers. One of the biggest pieces of this trust is not deceiving customers with your ads and their placement. This means your ads should be clearly identified as sponsored content.

Ideally, your customers won’t even care that the content is branded. Ideally, you’ve created something so useful or entertaining that they don’t focus on the company. Instead, they focus on the content. They should be so enamored that after they click on your ad and consume your content, they’ll want to share your content with their social networks; they’ll want to consume more. They should find themselves fans of your brand and your material.

But to be sure consumers (and the FTC) don’t feel like you’ve deceived those customers, every native ad should be clearly labeled as being sponsored or an advertisement.

Use Storytelling to Promote Your Company

Native advertising is not a time to pat your company on the back or talk down about your competition. This is a new form of marketing that doesn’t focus on your company so much as it focuses on telling a story to engage consumers. Consumers presumably like what they see, respect your brand for sharing the story and then come to your site looking for more. Engaging story plus a single call to action equals an effective native ad.

Utilize the Tools for Native Advertising

Native advertising is supported by a wide range of online tools. The most popular means of native advertising is the direct-to-publisher option which allows brands to create and post materials directly on a publisher’s website.

Costs vary widely, just as all advertising costs do, but many publisher tools include analytics where brands can track their native ads immediately and in real-time (or close to it). Third party tools include everything from the Headline Analyzer Tool by Coschedule for developing headlines to Ad-Roll for retargeting previous visitors.

Use Subtle Headlines

Remember that a native ad is not a blaring commercial advertisement. This is no banner ad. Your language and headline shouldn’t sound like a shrill for your company or a press release. Be more subtle and choose a headline that offers customers something they want. Offer entertainment, nostalgia, a how-to or an infographic along with a suitable headline. Also, consider including numbers in your headlines. Studies show that numbers boost click-throughs by 41 percent.

Integrate Native Ads Seamlessly


Native ads boost customer experiences by being seamless. The way native advertising is integrated into content is, thus, a huge consideration. The best native advertising campaigns should be personalized for viewers, related to the content on the publisher’s page, and appropriate for the viewing device.

Well-integrated, well-targeted in-feed advertisements have the best results for ROI. Consumers spend 31 percent more time on highly-visual, seamlessly-integrated ads, according to a study by Yahoo.

Be seamless not only with each publisher but with your brand message as a whole. Don’t use different branding on every platform. Stick to your universal brand message in all of your native advertising across a range of outlets – including several that aren’t social media.

If you follow these native advertising best practices, you’ll be sure to see success with your own campaigns. What other best practices have you found? Or do you disagree with any of our picks? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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