Native Ads: How to Make Them Work

Digital advertising is a key marketing tool for reaching and engaging target audiences. But as people become more sophisticated in how they discover and interact with content, native advertising provides brands with a new way to get their message out.

Below, we walk you through everything you need to know to get started with native advertising: what it is, why it’s important, how it works, and how to use native ads to reach your marketing goals.

What Is Native Advertising?

“A type of sponsored media that fits the form and purpose of the user experience on the site or app in which they’re put,” says Dan Greenburg, Founder, and CEO of Sharethrough. In a nutshell, they’re adverts that blend in.”

Native ads can be found on your favorite publisher sites as well as your favorite social media platforms. They’re more contextual than other forms of digital advertising since they blend in perfectly with the user experience (e.g. display and banner ads).

Native advertisements, rather than displaying off to the side or across the top of a web page, imitate the look, feel, and function of the medium’s content, increasing the likelihood that your audience will trust them.

And native ads are becoming more and more popular, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all digital display ad spend. In fact, native digital display advertising spends in the US is expected to reach a new high of $41.14 billion in 2019, according to the latest eMarketer report.

The Future of Native Advertising

It’s safe to say native advertising will continue to evolve. Stay ahead of the curve by keeping up on the following native advertising trends.

Social Media

Native advertisements can currently be seen on search engines, publisher websites, retail websites, and social media platforms. However, a closer examination of native ad spend reveals that publisher native ad budgets are declining, with social media taking up the slack.

Currently, social media accounts for nearly three-quarters of all native display ad spending in the United States. Brands are investing more in Instagram in-feed commercials, Snapchat filters, LinkedIn Sponsored Content, and other similar ad formats seen on social media, rather than purchasing ad slots on Forbes, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and other sites.

Mobile

Mobile devices accounted for 52.2 percent of total web traffic in 2018. The total amount spent on mobile digital advertising is predicted to increase by 26.5 percent by 2020.

Native mobile ads, on the other hand, will become a key investment due to the advantages that native advertising offers on mobile devices.

Native advertisements provide more options to reach your target audience on mobile devices due to the restricted real estate available for display or banner ads on mobile devices.

Native Video Ads

Half of the marketers will boost their spending on digital and mobile video ads, according to the IAB Video Ad Spend Study. According to the IAB survey, half of the advertisers have boosted their video advertising allocation to native advertising chances.

Native video advertisements will become more common in social network feeds, publisher sites, and other places as a result.

User-Generated Content

Today’s consumer covets authenticity. User-generated content helps build brand authenticity, creating deeper connections with your audience. For example, you might see more polls, surveys, or social media posts appear in native ad placements to drive audience interaction and build trust.

Ethics Disclosure

No one deserves to be fooled, even if native advertising looks like natural content. To ensure that advertisements are clearly labeled, more and more platforms are putting increasing emphasis on ad disclosures—even on native ads.

This gives users additional information about what is and isn’t a paid promotion, allowing them to make better content consumption decisions.

9 Steps for Creating Effective Native Ads on LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to reach your target audience directly in their feed with native ads. To help you create the most effective native advertisements on LinkedIn, here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Do you want to generate leads? Build brand awareness? Like anything pertaining to marketing, it’s important to set a goal, or a series of goals, first. Once you have your goals in mind, determine which KPIs will work best for measuring success.

Step 2: Create the Right Message for Your Audience

Now that you know why you want people to read your content, it’s important to decide who and what. Who do you want to consume your content? What do you want them to see or read? Answering these questions allows your content to take shape.

To create the right message, think about your target audience and what they find valuable. Analyze their behavior, preferences, and interests to identify content and ads they care about. Then, find a good intersection between what your audience values and what you’re best positioned to deliver.

Step 3: Choose the Right Format.

Platforms are used in a variety of ways by various people. It’s possible that how you use LinkedIn differs from how someone else does. Instead of scrolling through your feed, you can spend the majority of your time on the platform in your messages.

And that’s perfectly fine. Marketers, on the other hand, must be strategic about the types of native ads they use on LinkedIn.

Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, and Dynamic Ads are the three forms of native ads available on LinkedIn.

Analyze your goals, messaging, and audience groups to find the best native ad structure on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Sponsored InMail is a terrific alternative if you need extra area to communicate your message because you have more room to work with.

However, if your goal is to build brand awareness, LinkedIn Sponsored Content or LinkedIn Dynamic Ads may offer greater reach for your budget.

Step 4: Generate Your Content and Ads

Now, it’s time to put the pen to paper and craft your content. When writing, continue to think about how your audience will experience your message given the context of when and where it will appear.

Some best practices to keep in mind are:

  • Make a graphic aid. Images and videos tend to draw in a larger audience and result in better results. Use images with a resolution of 1200×627 pixels for your LinkedIn native advertisements.
  • The less time you spend on it, the better. In native ads, concise copy tends to perform better. Headlines should be under 60 characters long, while the intro content should be between 70 and 150 characters long.
  • In the second person, write. Maintain a conversational tone by using “you” language to address your audience.
  • Make an offer they won’t be able to reject. Give your audience exactly what they’re looking for. Include a call to action that fulfils that promise while also creating a sense of urgency.
  • Humor is popular. And, while it’s not always simple, having your audience laugh usually results in a favourable end.

Step 5: Post Your Content Organically

With your ads and content created, consider posting that same content to your organic audience on LinkedIn. You may find yourself earning additional followers as a result. Plus, the organic results are a good indicator of who your top performers are. To get a good sample of data, make sure to promote the posts organically for at least two weeks.

Step 6: Promote Top Performers

At this point in the game, you should have some clear organic winners. Boost their success even further by sponsoring them on LinkedIn. The extra visibility can help you build the additional social proof and backlinks that search engine algorithms seem to love.

Step 7: Measure Results

Results. It’s why you run ads in the first place. Whether it’s pageviews, conversions, engagement, time on page, impressions, or any other metric you’re tracking, take a look at your results to see how your ads are performing.

When selecting the metrics you want to measure, double-check that they relate to the goals you outlined in Step 1. This gives you greater insight into how you’re progressing towards achieving your objectives.

Step 8: Test, Optimize, Repeat

Advertising isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to marketing. Continue to test and tweak the various parts of your native ads to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your ad dollar. Try a new headline. Your call to action should be updated.

Create a new image. Follow A/B testing recommended practices for each of your tests, such as testing only one variable at a time and conducting your tests for at least two weeks.

Step 9: Retarget

Using retargeting to boost the success of your native ads on LinkedIn is another option. Retarget your audience with a more precise, relevant ad based on their previous engagement once they accomplish meaningful behaviors (e.g., visiting a specific page on your website or clicking on a specific ad) to nurture the connection.

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