Going Native. Formats, Uses & Best Practises

Native advertising, is incredible stuff.

You could argue that Ogilvy perfected the art of native advertising, if you look at all his classic ads they all follow the rules of great native advertising.

However over the past few years native advertising has had a resurge on digital, becoming a huge business in itself. If your not using it right now in your online marketing, then your missing out a huge chunk of potential revenue.

This post is about what exactly native advertising is, what types of offers it is good for and what you need to do to make the most money from it.


For the most part native advertising defined by: “A type of advertising that blends in with the site, rather than stick out like an advert.”

That can commonly look like the following:

Although they can come in any shape or size, on web, mobile or in-app there psychology behind it is for users to perceive the advertising as a valuable piece of the website, game or content. It’s done this way to combat banner blindness against what people ‘typically’ think of as advertising.

The formats are variable and most websites use placements differently however the formats usually include three basic elements of a picture, headline and final destination of the click.

There is also a pure native play format like Buzzfeed and VICE sell where the click isn’t redirected externally, but everything is kept on platform which can get confused with paid PR.

What is native used for

Let’s start at what native is typically not so good at. From my experience retargeting campaigns don’t work as well on native as they do on GDN or Facebook. Although native has tremendously wide reach using it to retarget doesn’t seem to work that well. This could be down to the fact that people are in the mindset of looking for something new when clicking on a native link, not something they have experienced before.

Secondarily native advertising isn’t the best for straight branding campaigns. Unfortunately when mindlessly scrolling brands aren’t the thing that drive clicks, it’s more about that clickbait style that runs the best. Even if you think you have a exciting piece that will get people talking about your brand, you should likely go down the route of viral marketing over paid native. Adverts get rewarded on native platforms for how ‘clickable’ they are, that typically doesn’t work so well on branding unless your looking for vitality, in those cases there are a lot better ways to do things. Furthermore brands are increasingly worried about brand association, and with the majority of publications pumping out negative news, that brands don’t want to get associated with.

What’s it’s undeniably powerful for though is direct response marketing for producing measurable leads and sales. And with the big brands advertisers largely staying out it keeps the CPM’s at a workable rate.

Best practises

Knowing that native advertising is best at producing measurable leads and sales. What are the best ways to go about achieving that?

Ad Level

Let’s start at the top, with the ad. the headline works best when it is something that just makes you click.

For instance:

• “Presenting the Easiest Way Ever Developed to Learn the Drums”

  • “Amazing New Software Eliminates Viruses in One Click”
  • “These Two Italian Brothers Make Pizza to Die For”
  • “Starting Today You Can Run Immediately Faster With These Shoes”

When served up to people in the general realm of these offers you notice an instant attraction to click the ad and find out.

… And that’s the first rule of native advertising, making the advertising itself valuable.

Landing page level

When directed to the site the native structure is different from a ‘typical’ lander that most people think of.

The first part of a funnel for native advertising is what’s known as an advertorial or a bridge page. This is basically a place to show off your marketing prowess using copywriting in an editorial fashion. The advertorial is mean’t to look like a native news site or app that they just came from, so the copy you right about your product or service is taken in it’s full rather than skipped over.

At the end you want to drive a relevant call to action leading to your normal sales funnel or lead capture page. It is also worth testing lead capture on page if you get the chance.

Cutting placements

Once you have go the main flow working the optimisation job is all around cutting bad placements. Because of the nature of native you don’t always know what your putting your article up against, a lot of the viewers of content won’t relate to the advert that your trying to push. So it’s all about finding the placements that stick.

Native can produce huge ROI if you get it right, but just be sure to continually update your ads and copy as set it and forget it isn’t something that works well on this medium.

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