The Power of a Good Ad Set in Native Advertising: Headlines and Creatives

headline copy in native advertising

Running a successful native campaign requires a great deal of preparation and forward planning. You need to find the right offer at the right time, you need to analyze your potential audience to aim your ads at, choose and test numerous native traffic sources selecting those that bring conversions, don’t forget to allocate a working budget for tests and for real-time running. 

The work doesn’t stop here, however. As now comes the part that shouldn’t be neglected at any cost – content preparation. We can’t stress enough how important it is to make your native ads stand out in this era of banner blindness and necessity of building strong brand awareness from the start. You have just a few seconds to be noticed and if you don’t grab the attention of the vast audience you’ll lose. Simple as that.

What is Native Advertising?

Let’s quickly remind ourselves that native advertising is a type of an ad that tries to blend in with the website or feed they appear on. Native ads don’t look like traditional ads: they are not invasive and create an impression of being native to the content of the website. 

Native ads have more visual elements – headlines and creatives – that work in your favour if you know how to master them. So how to make your headlines and creatives powerful and truly engage your potential clients? 

We will start with headlines first and brief you on the most useful tips that work like a charm.

How to Write Powerful Native Advertising Headlines

First of all, we can’t stress enough the importance of a good copy. So don’t be cheap and make sure you have a professional (person or yourself) working on it. And, yes, headlines are the most important element of them all. Your headline writing should always be a key component of your internet marketing strategy. After all, if it doesn’t capture your readers’ attention – what will?

So, here are some native advertising headline examples that prove to work wonders.

1. Keep it Short

I guess everybody has heard a thousand times already that the average attention span has been decreasing dramatically these past years. It means you need to make your headlines short and on point. Of course, different native traffic sources require a  different number of characters, but the shorter you keep them the better.

But don’t take this rule too literate: of course you need to use the right headlines length to convey information properly. Just try to convince your readers why they need to click your ads in a captivating but brief and concise manner. Show what benefit you can give them, use catchy but useful headlines. Consider your headline as a preview of what your content will be about by also giving the “solved problem” your readers are searching for.

Short headline example.

2. Create a Sense of Urgency

Nobody wants to miss out on a bargain. This is how our consumerism-centric brain works in today’s consumerist world. Create an impression of urgency and scarcity with your message. You snooze you lose!

Headline example with a sense of urgency.

3. Questions = Curiosity: What, When, Why and How

You can also use an interesting phenomenon known as the curiosity gap. It’s when our brain gets a sense of deprivation from realizing it doesn’t know something. You can trigger this feeling by providing a bit of information leaving the brain curious to find out more details on this matter.  It works best with question-type headlines. A good tip here is to try to make your headlines relatable to people’s needs. Also, don’t write questions people could simply answer “no” to.

Headline Example: Questions = Curiosity: What, When, Why and How

4. Offer a Solution to the Problem + Use “How to”

Start your headline with a ‘How to’ phrase and promise to bring good results. It works almost every time! Why is it so good? Well, it’s simple. People want to know as many life hacks, shortcuts, and band-aid solutions in their lives as possible.

Headline Example: Offer a Solution to the Problem + Use "How to"

5. Use Numbers

A recent study has proven that 83% of people find articles that have number references more reliable. 

Well, I actually made that number up just to prove that sentences that contain numbers sound more convincing. And numbers are easier to notice in the flood of text.

Headline Example: Use Numbers

6. Surprise your Reader: Use Power Words

People are prone to look for something new and exciting. That’s why it activates their anticipation for new experiences every time they see something unusual or unique. 

Use curiosity-stimulating words such as “secret”, “unbelievable”, “surprise”.  Also, don’t be shy and activate your inner best sales manager with power words such as ”awesome”, “super easy”, ”mind-blowing” etc. And yes, they do the trick.

One tip: in order to maximize your native advertising headlines, add these power words to your ad copy as well.

Headline Example: Surprise your Reader: Use Power Words

7. Tell a Story

Remember, I mentioned that you need to relate to people’s experiences? That’s exactly what telling a story can help you with. Tell something that people can relate to or associate themselves with. People constantly search for any confirmation that other people experience issues similar to theirs and that there is a solution to their current drama. 

Adding appeal to emotion is also a powerful way to win the audience’s favour. It is intended to draw inward feelings such as common understanding, pity, joy and inclusion. Coupled with an intriguing narrative you can achieve outstanding results. 

Headline Example: Tell a Story

8. Use Listicles: Top, Best of

We all like lists. They organise information in a more digestible way and let us grasp a lot of information with minimum efforts. Such native advertising headlines prove to be straight to the point and drive curiosity inviting users to click, and thus engage them in wanting to know more. 

Also, listicles use such phenomena as confirmation bias. It’s when we search, interpret and favour information in a way that confirms or supports our own beliefs or experience. So when we find something in such lists that we expected to see, it’s like a pet on our shoulder: we confirm to ourselves that we are smart. That’s why they are so effective and so addictive.

Headline example: Use Listicles: Top, Best of

9. Don’t be Afraid of Negatives

Well yes, people also tend to be quite negative. Why else do you think the majority of news is always about something bad happening? That attracts attention, that’s why. And attention is exactly what we need. 

Using words like “don’t,” “stop,” and “avoid” often works well because we all want to know if whatever it is we’re doing right now is actually wrong.

Headline example: Don’t be Afraid of Negatives

10. Intrigue and Satisfy

You have learnt already that a working headline should contain some trigger to motivate users to click on what you offer. You need to grab people’s attention by something catchy, be it some issue that a user wants to solve or something exciting that can amuse and entertain. You’ve done it, the ad is clicked and now don’t disappoint your reader. 

I do encourage you to exaggerate in your headlines, but deceiving is what you should not do under any circumstances. Always live up to users’ expectations: they need to find on your page what they were promised. If you think it does not matter and you can be better off using outrageous clickbait headlines all the way, think one more time.

Let’s use SEO logic applied to organic traffic. If users click because of a catchy headline, but leave a page after a few seconds because they expected to see something different, Google’s algorithm will not forgive it. It will categorize such content as bad and of low quality since no one is actually scrolling through the page and it will be ranked as the worst content and end up in the middle of search engine’s nowhere. 

Your users are even more picky and unforgiving compared to Google’s algorithm. Nobody will forget or forgive that they were manipulated and their expectations were not met. You will lose your audience, your potential customers and your trust factor and customer loyalty will be hard to earn back. Or even simpler: you’ll lose your potential conversion.

11. Check your Grammar

I mean it! Maybe you think nobody cares, but the truth is almost all of us have this nasty little grammar snob inside, ready to jump on the tiniest mistake someone else did. Should I mention that some native traffic sources treat this super seriously as well? You might have a mindblowing native ad but nobody will see it because a traffic source will reject your campaign due to spelling or grammar mistakes. 

One more thing! Different native traffic sources can require a different number of characters. If you exceed this limit your campaigns will not even start bidding. For example, different native programmatic DSPs (including Voluum’s) make their clients’ lives easier by giving direct information on how many characters you can have for this or that ad exchange. 

Good, the headlines are all set for now. It’s time to switch to something that is even more fun! 

How to Create Powerful Native Advertising Creatives

By now you should know why it is important to dedicate some time to creating powerful easy-to-read headlines. So it’s time to focus on another part of content preparation. I’d say this one is even more creative and interesting. I’m talking about the images that you will choose for your native campaigns. 

After all, native advertising is all about attracting potential clients with intriguing and captivating images that will make them click. In order to get clicks we need to be sure the audience is interested in what you are about to offer. 

7 Ways to Start Using the Best Creatives

Here are a few tips to make your native creatives bring more and more clients. You don’t have to apply each of them to all of your campaigns, but testing some of these rules in the future will definitely help you to grow as a native ad professional.

So, what really counts when it comes to making a killer creative?

1. Quality and Correct Size

Always aim for the best quality possible. It should be obvious and yet I still encounter native images that look really bad, e.g. with low resolution or  strangely cropped. Which leads to another tip: always comply with the sizes required by a native traffic source of your choice. 

Many native programmatic DSPs quite often crop your images automatically to match ad exchange’s size requirements. Sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong! If you didn’t pay enough attention you can be left with something weird or just plain ridiculous. Long story short – always double-check your image size and how it matches your traffic source’s requirements. 

Good practice for native creatives

2. Choose a Real Photo Over an Illustration

Authentic and creative content resonates better with native advertising consumers. Just don’t go too overboard. For example, it’s better to choose real-life photos rather than illustrations. Realistic images prove to bring higher CTR. 

Graphics versus image representing people

3. Go Back to Black

Opting for black and white images also shows better CTR compared to colour ones. But it’s not set in stone. It doesn’t mean that you should upload black and white images and forget about them. Always keep colour pictures for A/B testing and adjust your creatives when you see a drop in CTR.

P.S. Always run those A/B tests whenever you’re not sure about any element of your campaign. That’s like the digital marketing rule of thumb. 

Creatives examples

4. Show Humans and Animals

Studies show that consumers tend to react better to the images with a human in them. It is due to the fact that we associate with a person and their experience rather than with some random objects. 

Try to show genuine emotions on people’s faces. Every element of the image can reveal some precious information about the product or service you are promoting. So you want to make sure people you choose to show as a part of your campaign convey the right emotion. 

Another example of a well-performing creative for native ads would be pictures featuring  animals. They can provide you with a good CTR boost as well. I think there’s no need to explain why. 

Good practice for native creatives

5. “No” to a Text, “Yes” to a Close-up

Images without text perform better. So get rid of those captions and use your writing skills to create a compelling native headline instead (+ link to a previous article here). 

Also note that close-ups work better. Especially when you promote a certain product – just focus on the product itself!

Good practice for native creatives

6. Always Ask yourself “What Do I Promote?”

Following tips on how to create great images is great and all, but don’t let all those suggestions and ideas turn your focus away from your major business. Your images should correlate to what you are promoting! Stay true to your content, product, and brand.

Good practice for native creatives

7. Change your Creatives Regularly

A lot of marketers overlook this tip completely but I can’t stress enough the importance of this tip. First, to make your creatives work, you need to experiment a lot. Don’t be afraid to try different angles and ideas. Once you find this perfect combination – rejoice! But not for long. 

Don’t sit tight on your success. Keep in mind that native creatives have a tendency of getting worn out quite rapidly. Think about it: will seeing the same image over and over again make you any more interested in the product it offers? To be able to repeatedly grab the audience’s attention the content should be regularly updated. 

A/B Testing

Let me also separately remind you of the importance of testing. It’s one of the keys to your success too. You can follow every single step of a guide and a course, create killer headlines and creatives according to best practices but you’ll notice that some ad sets perform better than the others. That’s because you need to concentrate on the interests and demands of your target audience. And how to understand what your audience really needs? Correct! Give them a choice. 

Nothing will make a bigger impact than changing a headline or changing a creative in terms of actually increasing engagement rate. Unfortunately a lot of advertisers don’t spend time on testing, and it can be really considered as the greatest missed opportunity. You need to do A/B testing to find the tone of messaging that will actually resonate with the audience.

Test different variants and collect as much data as possible to make correct decisions further on. With this strategy you’ll quickly become aware of what your audience likes most. It will help to keep on increasing your brand awareness and earning those well-cherished clicks.

Final Remarks

These are the best suggestions on how to make your headlines and creatives stand out and bring results in the world of native advertising. But don’t forget that there is no ultimate solution to everybody’s problems. Neither is there a 100%-working hack on how to increase your CTR with the help of native creatives or headlines. 

So remember: analyse your data, do A/B testing, update your content, try different angles… In other words – Look after your campaign and your campaign will look after you!

Discover the power of native advertising with Voluum DSP!

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