As consumers, we don’t mind being marketed to. But we do tend to mind being interrupted and inconvenienced by ads that take away from our online experience as opposed to add value to it. That’s why native advertising has grown into such a massive marketing opportunity, with U.S. native ad spending projected to reach $49.1 billion by 2021.
But as media buyers continue to dive into this opportunity, we’re seeing it’s easy to fall victim to certain pitfalls based on how we’ve all approached other, more established digital programs.
Based on having delivered numerous native ad campaigns for different advertisers across multiple categories, we’ve developed a five-part framework for approaching native ads that we present in our latest eBook, How Media Buyers Can Crush It With Native Advertising Today. Correspondingly, we call out five main pitfalls to avoid. So here’s what NOT to do:
1. Go into native with a pure focus on conversions and a CPA target based on other campaigns.
We understand that advertisers ultimately want to sell more, and native can certainly help them do that, but the only way to unlock that potential is to truly respect the discipline of native advertising and set the right objectives.
2. Treat all prospective customers as if they are right on the cusp of buying from you.
People that might buy are not all standing on the edge waiting for that one message that will make them jump to become your customer – it’s just not that simple in most cases – so you have to understand where your audience is on the journey.
3. Insist on only delivering your more salesy content in an effort to maximize conversions.
With an understanding of the path to purchase, advertisers should quickly realize that different content will work on different points on this path. Just like in any communication between people, relationships and context matter.
4. Assume all native ad suppliers offer essentially the same kind of ad inventory.
Not all native advertising is the same. In fact, there are several important differences across native ad units and inventory types, and getting distribution right is critical. You have to understand what kind of inventory is required for your campaign.
5. Evaluate native success based on last click attribution and ignore post-view conversions.
Simply put, you have to measure the right things. And if native ad campaigns are measured the way search, affiliate or display retargeting ad campaigns have been measured in the past, nobody wins – certainly not the advertiser. There is more to it with native.
We see media buyers come close to falling into these pitfalls all the time, and the first one from the list above also tends to be the first one we run up against the most.
The issue typically arises when the business objective of driving more sales is not translated properly into the right native ad campaign objective. Respect has to be given to the fact that consumers go through certain steps on their journey to become a customer or even to buy again, which means that the campaign objectives (as well as the content, distribution and measurement) must map to where consumers in the target audience are on that journey.
Specifically, we see advertisers (1) failing to view prospecting goals separately from retargeting and (2) setting prospecting goals too far down the purchase path.
A recent campaign we ran for a subscription e-commerce brand almost fell victim to this. The advertiser came to us with a set CPA goal at a specific cost per sale amount, but during the discovery process we learned that this target was benchmarked against a single channel with a high ratio of retargeting, which was highlighted by the relatively low rate of first-time visitors. This created a productive conversation about site content, purchase paths, conversion times and rates, all of which helps establish a more thoughtful and scalable approach to achieving the end goal of driving more sales.
Philosophically, native is based on the idea that consumer attention is finite and that marketers need to earn it with meaningful content before they can effectively talk about how great their products are. It may sound trite to some, but it really comes down to providing value before asking a consumer to take an action. That’s the reality in this 2017 world of marketing.
Now, as marketers, we just have to make sure we understand and respect this new distribution channel that native advertising is providing us so we can avoid the pitfalls and meet our goals.