Introducing “Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It” [ebook]

Featuring 9 Steps to Creating Native Advertising That Works

June 30, 2016

The Interactive Advertising Bureau identifies six kinds of native advertising: In-feed ads, paid search ads, recommendation widgets, promoted listings, IAB standard ads with native element units, and custom units.

The kind of native advertising that is now attracting the keen attention of advertisers is the one at the top of that list: the in-feed ad. A large appeal of this particular kind of native advertising is its unobtrusive nature—it appears in the content stream that your prospects are already consuming. Examples of in-feed advertising are Instagram Ads on Instagram, Promoted Tweets on Twitter, and Sponsored Content in the LinkedIn feed.

In addition to its unobtrusive nature, native advertising is also highly compatible with mobile, a fact covered extensively in LinkedIn's new ebook, "Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It." So it’s no surprise then that by 2018, spending on online native advertising in the United States alone is projected to reach $21 billion, up almost five times the spending level in 2013.  

Marketers looking to leverage native advertising can put these nine steps to use for creating native advertising that works:

Step 1: Set Your Goals

As with any advertising initiative you should first define what you are trying to achieve with your native ads. In many cases, you will be driving prospects to consume some form of content. But why do you want them to consume it?  Is it to raise brand awareness? Build thought leadership? Generate leads? Whatever your goal, determine how you will track and measure success.

Step 2: Select the Right Message for Your Target Audience

The audience you are trying to reach should go hand-in-hand with your overall goals. Once you have identified the specific audience segment you want to reach, analyze this segment’s behaviors and preferences to determine the most fitting and compelling ads and content. Decide what content to create by determining the intersection of what your audience wants and what topics you can cover with authority. Social networks enable marketers to use demographic data on users (ranging from their age and geo-location to their job title and company size) to deliver precisely targeted native advertising.

Step 3: Choose Your Platform and Native Ad Format

Various online and social channels reach different kinds of audiences. For instance, Facebook’s audience differs from Pinterest’s, which differs from Twitter’s. Additionally, social channels offer different kinds of  native advertising which best fits their format. For example, LinkedIn offers three native advertising formats—LinkedIn Sponsored Content, LinkedIn Sponsored InMail, and LinkedIn Dynamic Ads—so marketers can reach members of their target audience no matter how those users are interacting  with the LinkedIn platform.

Step 4: Create Your Ads and Content

When creating content, lose the advertising mentality and instead adopt an “earned media” mindset: You should strive to make your content so good that the platform or publisher would pay to run it. That said, focus on your audience, and what they want to hear, read, or do, while including a call to action that moves prospects along the customer journey.

Step 5: Post Content Organically

To get feedback on your approach, you should consider posting content organically to a) gain followers and b) gauge the best performers on your platform(s) of choice. Run at least two posts for at least three weeks.

Step 6: Invest in the Best

Convert the best performing organic content among your target audience into paid placements, using data to aim these native ads at the audience you want to reach.

Step 7: Measure the Impact

To understand how well your native ads are performing, you can measure page views, conversions, engagement, time on page, referrals, impressions, links out, and overall response to the ads.

Step 8: A/B Test

Take the time to optimize your advertising elements (e.g., headlines, copy, images) and content offer (e.g., e-book, infographic) to make sure you’re engaging your audience.

Step 9: Retarget

You can boost conversions by retargeting your target audience, based on their meaningful behaviors, such the pages they visit on your website or how they engaged with your previous ads. Retargeting, often with more specific and increasingly relevant messaging based on the prospect’s previous interaction with your content, can help you cement the relationship.

For more insight into how to produce native advertising that works for your business, download, "Native Advertising. What It Is. How to Do It" today!