Crafting Compelling Content for Effective Native Advertising

What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising seamlessly integrates paid content into the natural form and function of the platform, resembling the surrounding editorial content to engage users effectively while promoting products or services.

Earlier this month, Google revealed a groundbreaking update: advertisers now have the ability to seamlessly integrate native ads into Gmail accounts. These ads, nestled at the apex of the Gmail Promotions tab, offer users a seamless experience. When engaged, they expand into a full email-sized canvas, providing a dynamic platform for interaction with the ad’s visuals and messaging.

Source: Taboola native ad in Gmail

Google’s latest announcement is making waves in the digital marketing sphere, highlighting the ongoing expansion and embrace of native advertising practices.

What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising, as defined by Sharethrough, is a type of paid media that seamlessly blends into the natural form and function of the user experience within which it is integrated.

Google indeed pioneered native advertising with its introduction of paid ads seamlessly integrated into organic search engine results pages, mirroring the format of non-paid listings. The essence of native advertising lies in its ability to seamlessly blend into the content environment, resembling regular content rather than overt advertisements. Think of native ads as the digital equivalent of advertorials commonly found in print magazines.

Major social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr generate revenue through native, in-feed ads. Likewise, traditional publishing giants like “Time,” “Wall Street Journal,” “Forbes,” and “USA Today” are swiftly embracing native advertising, offering ad placements that mimic the form and function of their editorial content. These “sponsored ads” sometimes challenge readers in distinguishing between editorial content and advertisements.

According to Sharethrough, consumers engage with native ads 52% more than traditional banner ads. The blending of advertising with content can be perceived positively or negatively, depending on one’s perspective. For digital marketers, however, this blurred line presents an opportunity for effective conversion – provided it’s executed thoughtfully.

Writing Content That Converts

Effective native advertising seamlessly blends into the surrounding editorial content, matching both its function and form. When utilizing paid platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook Ads, or employing native ad services such as Outbrain or Taboola, the platform typically manages the function aspect, leaving marketers to focus on aligning with the form to drive conversions.

Online, you’ll find a spectrum of native advertising examples, ranging from exemplary to poor. An instance of a subpar native ad is one from Proxe. While scrolling through Facebook, this ad disrupted my experience reading about my Aunt Marina’s hip replacement surgery. Notably, the use of “FREE” in all caps, a headline with initial caps, and a keyword-heavy sentence deviates from the typical form seen in my Facebook newsfeed. This ad’s lack of conformity with the platform’s usual content style renders it ineffective and intrusive.

Source: Facebook native advertisement from Proxe

Here’s an example of a well-executed native ad that appeared in my LinkedIn newsfeed. This ad seamlessly integrates with the content I typically encounter on LinkedIn: professional information, tips, techniques, and business discussions.

When considering native advertising, it’s crucial to anticipate what users expect when they click on an ad. Typically, users anticipate accessing content relevant to their interests. However, upon clicking the Pardot link, I was directed to a squeeze page requiring me to input my contact information to download a white paper. While it’s not inherently problematic to request information before conversion, my expectation was to access information about marketing automation. This disconnect between expectation and reality can lead to user frustration and diminish the effectiveness of the ad.

Source: Pardot landing page

For a native advertising campaign to succeed, it’s essential to align with the format of the platform and deliver the content users anticipate upon clicking the ad. In the case of Pardot, a more effective approach would have been to offer a teaser article on marketing automation upon clicking the ad, followed by a request for contact information to receive the full buyer’s guide. This strategy maintains continuity between the ad and the expected content, enhancing user satisfaction and conversion rates.

Send People to Pages They Expect

In native advertising, it’s crucial to direct users to a page where they immediately find the anticipated information after clicking the ad. Once they’ve accessed the expected content, you can then prompt them to sign up for further information on the topic. One effective method is to lead visitors to a relevant blog post and include a clear call-to-action (CTA) inviting them to subscribe for additional insights.

Here are some steps on how to write native-worthy content that converts:

Deliver your ad. There are a lot of native ad distribution companies. Taboola is widely recognized as the world’s leading native advertising content discovery platform, reaching 550M unique visitors and serving over 200 billion recommendations every month.

Write content that offers value. If a person is going to take the time to click on your ad, the least you can do is provide them with sufficient content that will whet their appetite for more information about what you have to offer. Make sure the content you provide aligns with the headline you’ve created and provides the user valuable information that they would expect from clicking on your ad. It’s better to over deliver – don’t skimp here or you’ll lose the reader’s trust.

Write a headline that looks like a news article or matches the context of the platform you’re advertising on. Native advertising is a content distribution strategy. You have to build trust. If you give people what they want, they’ll give you what you want. Write a headline that looks and feels like a news story – not a marketing piece or advertisement.

Be useful but incomplete. When people click on a native ad they expect to see content. So don’t ruin their experience by sending them to a squeeze page with no content. What you should do is give them useful content that’s incomplete – something that leaves them wanting more. (i.e. The headline of your ad might be What’s the First Step to Getting More Sales Leads? and you provide them with information on that first step, but in order to get the other nine steps, they must provide their email address.)

First, start with the end in mind. When you begin writing a native ad, you want to start with the end in mind. What is the next step you want people to take to get closer to your offer? Do you want them to make a purchase, opt in to your newsletter, download a whitepaper, etc.? You can help yourself out by starting with the call to action (CTA). At this point don’t think headlines or content, simply start with a blank slate and the call to action. Everything else will flow backwards from here.

Native Ad Distribution Tips for Local Businesses

When marketing a local business, approach the local newspaper directly to explore the possibility of featuring sponsored content in both their print and online editions. Inquire about their advertising rates and negotiate to pay approximately half of the standard rate. Given that publishers can save up to 30% on commissions by bypassing third-party native advertising companies like Taboola, ensure that you receive a discount reflecting some of these savings.

Confirm with the newspaper that your native ad will include a hyperlink, won’t have borders, and inquire about the possibility of listing your ad in the table of contents of the print publication. Remember, it’s crucial for your native ad to resemble an article rather than an advertisement in both appearance and content.

Bottom Line

Native ads are gaining visibility, rivaling traditional content in engagement. Sharethough discovered that consumers actually spend more time viewing native ads than original editorial content, with a significant margin of 26% versus 24%. Given these statistics, it’s imperative to craft content that not only resonates but seamlessly integrates and resembles traditional content. By producing compelling content that seamlessly blends in, you’re poised to achieve the desired results.