Do you use an ad blocker when you’re browsing online?
Given that so many people do, traditional online advertising is becoming less effective for contacting customers. So how should e-commerce operators try to target consumers to get them interested?
This article will discuss native advertising: what it is, and how you can make it work for your business.
What is native advertising?
Native advertising is one of the best e-commerce marketing strategies out there. Its power lies in its relative unobtrusiveness.
Unlike traditional display advertising, such as banner ads or pop-up videos, native advertising aims to blend into the page so that its presence feels natural to the reader. It’s a type of paid advertising taking the form of helpful content. Native ads aim to inform, entertain or present your business proposal rather than sell directly.
You’ve probably seen many of them and may even have clicked on a few. Often, they’re listed as a “recommended article” or “promoted content.”
Why is native advertising effective?
The major challenge marketers have faced since time immemorial is that people don’t like being advertised to. It poses a problem for advertisers. How do you drive consumer engagement with your brand without your potential customers noticing that that’s what you’re doing?
Native ads are one way of addressing this issue. Essentially, you’re giving people helpful content while subtly encouraging brand engagement simultaneously. Native advertising is perceived as the least obtrusive form of online advertising, while social media ads are considered the most intrusive.
There seems to be a trend for online audiences to be pulling away from social media and moving more toward editorial-style content. With this in mind, you should consider what this means for your e-commerce marketing strategy.
How to use native advertising for e-commerce
OK, so let’s suppose you want to try out a native advertising campaign as a way of driving up digital customer engagement. Where do you start?
Step 1 – Make sure you’re ready
Native advertising will only succeed if you already have a product that works. Choose a product that has performed well in other sales channels or your highest-converting product and go with that.
You should also have already optimized your product page for conversions in general. The point of native advertising is to drive traffic through to your page. It won’t increase sales in and of itself if your site is ineffective.
Step 2 – Choose the right platform
There are well over a thousand native advertising networks which bring advertisers and publishers together to target interested consumers. These networks don’t all partner with the same sites. So if you’re looking to have your content published on particular sites, you’ll need to make sure that’s a possibility with the network you’ve chosen first.
The best known of these are Taboola, and Outbrain, which reach 1.4 billion and 1.3 billion viewers a month. However, there are plenty of others: Revcontent, MGID, and Adyoulike are just a few of the most widely used. Take the time to explore in-depth what each network offers. Consider aspects such as:
- available website inventory
- targeting options
- your budget
Step 3 – Set measurable goals
As with any kind of marketing campaign, whether advertising on TikTok or launching a pop-up shop, setting clearly defined goals is crucial. Your goals will vary depending on your overall strategy, of course, but a few common ones for native advertising campaigns include:
Lead generation: If the native ad leads to a landing page on your site, you can count the leads generated directly by the ad, and hence measure its effectiveness.
Engagement: Typical metrics to use here could be click-through rates, page visits, or dwell-time on blogs.
Brand awareness: A little less straightforward to measure directly, but you can keep an eye on search trends for the company or product and website visitor numbers. Social media presence is a great way to bring brand awareness to another level. Comparing the numbers before, during, and immediately after the native campaign has run will give you a good idea of how effective it’s been. Later, you should learn things such as how to buy a domain name, how to optimize your website, what design approach to take, and other elements that will affect your branding.
Conversions: Whatever you want your customers to do, if they do it, that’s a win. Keep track of how trends in sales, downloads, etc. develop during your native ad campaign.
Step 4 – Check out the competition
What kind of images are your competitors using? That will give you your first clue as to what’s more popular and effective: product images or something completely different that attracts attention.
It’s also interesting to consider what these native ads are linking to. Is it a landing page with dynamic video ads? Maybe they’re linked directly to a product page? Start thinking about how you want this to work for your campaign.
Use tools like Adbeat or Taboola Trends to look at the finer detail of these campaigns. It’ll put you in a much better position to start working on your own.
Step 5 – Make the creative
You doubtless have your ideas for this, but a few things to bear in mind for native ad creative would be:
Don’t exaggerate to draw attention: Absolutely nobody loves clickbait. Misrepresenting your product in your creative will annoy people. They may click on your ad, but if there are no conversions on the other side, what’s the point?
Catchy titles: You should still be doing your best to capture potential customers’ eyes, though. Making an effort with the titles you choose will pay off.
Use concrete figures: The price of your product, statistics about its effectiveness, and so on. Including solid data is more persuasive.
Try multiple creative options: Have several versions in your pocket and experiment to discover the most effective. If you’re advertising a text messaging service, for example, you could try a mixture of infographics about business comms and content explaining the advantages of your system. Don’t just stick to one approach.
Struggling with delivering different creative on demand? Consider creative automation. Moreover, check out the best website ideas 2022. Analyze the creatives used by your competitors and choose the most effective ones.
Step 6 – Get the campaign running
First, double-check the creative you’re planning to use, abide by your platform’s terms, and then you’re ready to go.
Upload several different creatives and headlines; four or five of each is ideal, to begin with. Set your bid slightly higher than the cost per click recommended; this will get you up and running fast, securing better placements. You won’t want to do this permanently, but you can tweak the campaign once it’s cruising to optimize the cost/quality balance.
Bear in mind you don’t need to stick to fixed CPCs; you can set your bids to be automatically optimized by the network.
As your campaign unfolds, it will become clear which pieces of creativity are working more effectively. Drop the ones that aren’t. Don’t panic if your campaign seems to be losing money at first, though; this is normal. It can take weeks for a native ad campaign to become profitable. In other words: it’s not necessarily a marathon, but it isn’t a sprint either. Be patient and keep optimizing.
The takeaway on native ad campaigns
Remember that the aim is to keep your CPCs low while hitting a high conversion rate. Sometimes, you’ll come across combinations that are working much better than the rest. When you strike gold like this, you could opt to run them in a separate campaign to take advantage. If you’re looking to scale up your native advertising strategy, this can be an excellent approach.
There’s no doubt that native advertising is one of the most effective tools available to digital marketers today. So why not start thinking about how to take advantage and give it a go!
Want to dig deep about advanced campaigns and dynamic creative optimization? Don't hesitate to reach out and see Hunch in action.
Jenna Bunnell - Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system and call center software that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has also written for other domains such as Shift4Shop and PayTabs. Check out her LinkedIn profile.