While this blog has already covered native ads from a variety of different angles, we haven’t yet discussed the specifics of the user journey and what makes for a successful native campaign.
To begin, let’s briefly explore how native ads came to be. What pain points in the world of digital advertising led to the creation of the native ad format? And are native ads successful in addressing those pain points?
Before the native ad format was created, banners were the most common type of graphic ad on the internet. Banner ads work well – as evidenced by the fact that they’re still around today. Banner ads can be static, or they can include animations to make them more eye-catching. Additionally, they’re flexible in that they can be used for both performance and brand campaigns. However, the format has an innate weakness: it’s prone to produce “banner blindness”.
Banner blindness refers to the phenomenon of people seeing an ad enough times that they eventually tune it out. When this happens, CPC rates skyrocket. The phenomenon bears the name “banner blindness” for a reason: banners tend to be light on content and not particularly engaging upon multiple views. In fact, after a person sees a specific banner ad for the first time, CTR drops precipitously every subsequent time it’s viewed.
Native ads are different. They emulate a news story by incorporating a compelling headline and photo, and they’re strategically placed alongside other pieces of content. This reduces the occurrence of ad fatigue in two ways:
But we still haven’t gotten to the key question: what’s the best way to put together a successful native ad campaign?
Even though native ads are better than banner ads when it comes to blending in, they’re still quite obviously advertisements. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, the goal of native ads isn’t to trick someone into clicking; instead, your ads should be innately compelling.
The question of how to make a successful native ad campaign is thus a question of psychology: how can you entice people to click your ad even though they know that it’s an ad? The answer is twofold. Your native ads will perform best if they’re both 1) interesting and 2) informative.
The first hurdle is to make your ad stand out from the crowd. This is where your creative comes into play. You’ll want to choose a photo or illustration that’s both eye-catching and directly relevant to your content. Try to resist the temptation to use a sexy or shocking image. Although these types of images will definitely grab peoples’ attention, more often than not they don’t mesh well with the overall theme of an ad, and they run the risk of being blocked by your publisher. To make matters worse, users may be disappointed when they visit your landing page only to discover that the sexy model from the ad is nowhere to be found. We recommend choosing an image that is immediately interesting and also fits in well with the theme of your product.
The next challenge is to draft a good headline for your ad. Audiences tend to be drawn to images first, and then read the ad copy. In other words, people will only read your headline after they’ve checked out your creative.
Make sure that your headline provides a clear value proposition and is attention-grabbing – but not clickbaity. As you draft your headline, you should ask yourself why people would want to click on it. Are you providing a solution to a real problem? Do you have unique content that’s not available elsewhere? Or maybe you’ve simply posed a question that piques peoples’ interest. No matter what type of content you have on your landing page, there’s bound to be a good way to introduce it with a strong headline.
Finally, consider the user journey as they click your ad. The user has already invested time to check out your creative and read your headline, all the while knowing that they’re looking at an advertisement. When they arrive at your landing page, they’re engaged and ready to learn more. This is a make-or-break moment. Your landing page should follow your native ad with relevant, interesting content, and a strong call to action. If not, you’ve lost a lead.
In short, a successful native ad campaign relies on strong content – from the creative to the ad copy to the landing page. If you focus on content, you won’t fall into some of the pitfalls associated with clickbaity tactics. And your native campaigns will perform great.