“Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? You WILL.” What would come to transform the world of advertising 20 plus years later, totally baffled the 25 million or so users in 1994.
That was the messaging shown on the first ever banner advert found online. In a wonderful campaign by American company AT&T, they directed people wowed by the revolutionary clipart-esque rainbow text to a site that highlighted some of the world’s best museums. This was the beginning of a campaign to emphasise the power of the future, looking at ideas that are everyday things to us folk in 2022. Using video to call someone on your phone, or borrowing books from any library in the world, this was truly the beginning of something special.
Online display advertising took off from this point. From ads similar to the one above, to others that were gorgeous and way ahead of their time, we knew that display was here to stay. This progressed quickly until the early 2010s, when the term “Native Advertising” was coined. Although commonly seen throughout other forms of media going back over 100 years, its first online appearance came to describe advertising that matches the content it is displayed alongside.
Today is the day you understand native advertising from a display standpoint. There will be an in-depth look into useful platforms, what content works best, comparing display and native, and more.
Where to Get Started
In our second history lesson of the day, Apple invented the phrase “there’s an app for that” in the buildup to the release of the iPhone 3G. Apple exclaimed to the marketing industry “you can copy my homework but don’t make it too obvious”, and here at Optimyzd, we have done just that by pronouncing – “there’s a platform for that”.
Most businesses that fundamentally work within the online realms will have platforms, programs and networks for anything and everything they desire. This is no different when we discuss native advertising. We at Optimyzd have a few personal favourites, but there are a number of great options to choose from.
For the purpose of today, we will be focusing on the display side of native advertising. This is where you can create a visually appealing advert, alongside adding a headline, description and a CTA with a message that suits you. Due to the nature of native, your ads can appear almost anywhere, with most platforms having multiple useful tools that can help specify your audience in a plethora of ways.
A personal favourite of mine, Taboola is not only fun to say, it also offers a brilliant native service. Very clear to understand performance from an overall view, efficient and effective from a more specific campaign view, and there is little to no pointless admin in the way of ad creation. They do a fantastic job of simplifying the entire process, while still offering advanced tools to the marketer looking to really delve into the platform.
Yahoo is another with a really good native offering. They have invested massively in recent months, with a brand new platform/interface being introduced at the turn of the year. Formerly on Yahoo Gemini, the company now has its own, sole platform – Yahoo DSP. A brilliant new contribution to the native world, it is slightly more complex than Taboola. However, this shouldn’t put you off; with the sheer amount of data Yahoo provides, as well as quality audiences, ease of use for split testing, you should definitely consider it as a very viable option.
Essential Platform Content
We’ve touched on the origins of native advertising – and the incorporation of display ads within a native field – and some of the top platforms you can use. Now let’s look at how you put this all together to curate the best possible opportunities for your business.
Starting with Taboola, creating a campaign couldn’t be easier. They offer 5 key marketing objectives depending on what you are looking for. We recommend website engagement or brand awareness for display campaigns, however, Lead Gen, online purchases and app installs are also available and totally viable options.
Taboola also gives you little recommendations throughout the setup of your campaign, such as A/B testing between devices due to the difference in cost per click between Desktop and Mobile + Tablet. Their audiences are really well laid out and allow for multiple layers of targeting.
Starting with your own audiences, you can add custom remarketing and/or lookalike audiences so you know before you go any further, your ads will hit the right people. Taboola’s marketplace audiences are very good, with loads of trusted third-parties providing oodles of quality audience data. Not forgetting contextual audiences, you can also target relevant pages if you do want to appear in very specific places.
Once you’ve added your budget and max CPC bid, you then add all of the content you require for the campaign. Taboola is better than most for sorting images, and offers a wide variety of CTA buttons to fit the context of the content you will be directing people to.
Microsoft Ads is another that provides an amazing service without you having to worry about spending hours on setup. You can link budgets, targeting and other areas from your Microsoft search campaigns to a native offering you will run. Microsoft also has various premium sites for you to appear on, such as Outlook, MSN, MS Edge, Bing, CBS Sports, Fox and more. This guarantees top placements and a smaller chance of accidental clicks.
Microsoft’s relationship with Shutterstock gives you access to a large portion of their image library if you want to find high-quality media to add into your campaign. If images aren’t really your thing, they have native text ads which you can use, on Outlook especially. It’s always a positive to have a large bank of ideas, and to test and trial campaigns in a variety of ways to see what works best, and Microsoft Ads gives you full reign to experiment in this manner.
Effectiveness of Native Advertising
It’s all well and good knowing about the platforms and what they offer, but I’m sure the main thing you want to know before diving in is something along the lines of “How effective will native advertising be for me?” Now, as you can expect, there are variables for every company, every industry, and every campaign. For the most part, native display campaigns will be brand awareness or traffic-driving exercises, something you do to get as many eyes visible on your name and message as possible, and guiding them to a specific landing page of your choosing.
Here at Optimyzd, we’ve successfully managed hundreds of native campaigns for various clients over the years. Some have achieved more success than others, and here are some of the best findings we have extracted from our experience across the native realm.
- Don’t be CPC stingy. All in all, CPCs are relatively low across the board for display and native campaigns. We’ve noticed some campaigns have a CPC as low as 5p in times gone, but that doesn’t mean that we stick a 5/6p max CPC on new campaigns. Give them some leeway, even double that mark is fine. Remember, you’re doing it for a reason, even if it is at a higher mark than you expected, you should still be hitting the right audience for the campaign, so all you’re doing is finding more of the right people to see your ads.
- Audiences; Specific > Broad. Broad audiences are a great way of having a large audience to reach with your campaigns, and sure it can sometimes work well. But to get the best out of your budget, look deeper into your platform of choice, and find audiences that are more tailored to a specific area. These people are much more likely to be invested in your advert.
- Mobile > Desktop CTR, but be careful. Our split testing indicates a much better CTR on mobiles than desktop. One campaign in particular that we ran in March this year had a budget of £400, £200 for each of mobile and desktop. The CTR on desktop was 0.51%, around the average for a normal campaign that doesn’t have a split. The CTR on mobile was 1.9%, and as incredible as that might look on paper, make sure to dig deeper into this and ensure that the clicks you’re receiving are genuine and useful. Mobile clicks are more likely to be accidental, leading to a higher bounce rate and this can affect your SEO.
Native advertising has been growing immensely in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. More and more marketing agencies, and companies in general are delving into the scene to try and get their names out there. It’s getting easier as time goes on to set up native campaigns, as well as being able to get more out of your budget as ads become more tailored to the audiences they are targeting.
There are a number of platforms that each have huge benefits, and to be honest, we recommend using all of them. Get a good feel for each, and then progress on from there. You might even find yourself using 2 or 3 as they serve their own useful purposes, and you should never fix what isn’t broken.
Take your time with native, as it is a new world to many. But the more you explore now, the more of an advantage you will have over competitors who may not yet be in the native picture. Curate quality media, seize the premium placements and let native advertising find the right people to browse your website.