It’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year like no other for businesses and individuals alike. This past year could have been the plot of a science fiction movie– especially with the face masks as a must-have accessory. We all had to evolve and adjust to fit the new normal. In the digital marketing realm, advertisers and marketers had to quickly and precisely adapt new strategies and call on their more innate skills, like listening, self-awareness, or intuition.
While many companies pumped the brakes on advertising in 2020, native advertising overall has rallied better, as even small local businesses were more likely to turn to the digital channels where consumers have been spending huge amounts of time during the pandemic. As reported by eMarketer, over $47.33 billion was predicted to be spent on native ads in 2020, which means a 4.8% growth spurt. What’s more, it’s expected that native ad spend will grow by 21% in 2021.
Well, the new year is already here. What’s going to happen in 2021? We spoke with native advertising experts to learn what they consider to be the most important best practices for native ads and get a better idea of what the future holds.
What trends will have the biggest impact on native advertising in 2021?
Jesse De Pril, Media Buyer
Facebook is clamping down on low-quality advertisers. I believe that this will create a massive influx of new advertisers on native advertising channels that will all be running the same offers on the same placements. In effect, we’ll have a temporary situation where the demand exceeds the supply on some of the more popular Ad Networks. The big competitive geos on top native sources like Taboola, Outbrain, or Gemini will be impossible to run on a scale without any moat.
On the one hand, to hit a massive scale, advertisers will either need custom technology, a good retargeting strategy, super exclusive offers, very unique creatives, discounted buying rates, or a good combination of everything. On the other hand, if big brands spend less on advertising because of a recession, this could create a range of opportunities for performance marketers.
If 2021 becomes a year of a huge recession because of COVID-19, I also predict that consumer behavior will be changing. People will still convert on evergreen verticals that fix a need such as pain relief or weight loss, alternatively help them save some money. However, at the end of the day, they will convert less on eCommerce offers that are just “nice to have”.
What advice would you give to a newbie in native? What do you recommend to more experienced users?
Stanislas Buch, Media Buyer at Media-Net.io
If you’re a newbie don’t be afraid to be creative. Do more than a simple copy-paste. It’s good to think outside of the box and test creatives with different angles and contexts. The results may surprise you! Also, don’t forget about the headlines. The only way to find the best title for your ad is to split test several ad texts. You can play around with different techniques like using numbers, questions or simply telling a story.
As soon as you get more and more experience start to experiment and diversify your traffic sources. Don’t be afraid to use auto-optimization tools. Let the algorithms do the work for you and save some time by ensuring that you get the highest possible return on your advertising budget, without having to analyze your campaigns every day.
What native advertising practices do you find the most effective?
Jesse De Pril, Media Buyer
Use the zoom in/zoom out methodology to make good strategic decisions. Basically, when you zoom in, you get a close look at specific details that sometimes could be too close to make valuable conclusions. Whereas when you only zoom out to see the big picture, you may miss some subtleties and nuances. Both perspectives– worm’s-eye and bird’s-eye will allow you to get a complete picture.
What’s more, at first you should always put a lot of effort into your ad sets (creatives and copy). They need to be a perfect combination of prequalifying the user (so you get the right audience), but also need to catch attention (so your ad Click-Through Rate (CTR) is good and generates sales).
Once you have the best possible ad creations, you should focus on the customer experience from the ad to the presell. Keeping the journey smooth will help you improve user retention and engagement. As soon as both of them are optimized, you can start fine-tuning your ads again. How? Simply, create more of what worked well. It goes without saying that the offer is always the most important part, however. That’s something you test and retest in all phases.
What types of offers are worth investing in?
Natalia Juszczak, Marketing Copywriter at MyLead
Some people say that because affiliate marketing started peaking its popularity, it’s generally hard to break through and be successful. If you want to deal with affiliate marketing through SEO, using popular phrases like “best supplements”, or “cheapest loans” may require enormous investments, often disproportionate to the profits achieved.
There’s an interesting article published by MyLead affiliate network. It’s about affiliate marketing predictions for 2021. If you’re interested in why “Hey, Alexa” will be the most used sentence, why influencers with less than 10 thousand followers will run the industry, and why it’s important to change your promotion content when it’s winter, go to the affiliate marketing blog to read about it.
If it comes to the types of offers that are worth investing in, you have to bear in mind that even if the pandemic ends tomorrow, there are a lot of industries that will not come back anytime soon. On the other hand, there will still be some that continue their popularity streak:
- Home Office – we all think the worst time if it comes to lockdowns is behind us but most companies will continue their decisions about working from home – it’s cheaper, better and, most importantly, safer. This means that you can earn money by promoting products related to desk accessories, work equipment but also things that people like to do after their work time, like sports equipment. Earning from home is just convenient.
- Finance – this is an evergreen niche – people will always need cash, and loans are now cheaper than ever. It still gives the guarantee of the highest rates. But remember that you will probably have to put in a bigger effort than in other types of offers.
- Dietary Supplements – it seems like people started to finally take care of their health. And that’s a great opportunity for any publisher. According to AuthorityHacker, more than two-thirds of Americans take dietary supplements each year. Supplement affiliate programs are usually easy to promote and the rates are always high.
Wojciech Wątor, Ad Operations Specialist at Voluum DSP
The tips below will help you squeeze as much ROI from your native campaigns as possible.
Best Practices for Ad Creation
Native ad campaigns are built from a number of elements, such as a headline, image, description, call to action, icon etc. When there are this many variables involved, ad optimization is not that simple, especially at the very beginning. If you’re a newbie starting your native advertising adventure, these are some of the most important components to test:
Basically, there are many ways to adjust your headlines. Let me share with you some of my favorite approaches, definitely worth trying.
- Promise a solution to a problem – it’s simple, people want to know as many life hacks, shortcuts, and band-aid solutions for their lives as possible. Let the reader know that you have valuable content to offer!
A simple fix for snoring and sleep apnea.
- Add numbers – quantifying the solution creates a sense of scale and proportion in the user’s mind. What’s more, numbers are just easy to notice and catchy.
How 8 out of 10 people lost 10 kg in just a few months.
- Ask Questions – providing a bit of information and leaving the brain curious can not only spark interest, but most importantly, encourage the reader to click to learn more.
Who is the highest-paid celebrity in the world?
The correct use of visuals in your native ads is vital. It’s the first point of contact your target user makes with the campaign. So, how to build a winning creative?
- This is obvious, but whether you are using stock photos or hiring a photographer, you should make sure that your images are properly sized and cropped.
- Experiment and add creatives with various angles, contexts, and content to see the difference in performance.
- Don’t forget that each generation looks at the same product very differently. Try to interest various age groups and see what works best for your campaign.
Remember that you don’t have to use completely different visuals, you can change some parts of the image itself. For instance:
- change the background color of the image
- increase the brightness
- try black and white theme
- test both: a close-up and a wide-angled shot
In the first stage of your campaign, you should test at least 3 headlines with 3 descriptions and 5-10 variations of very different imagery. At the end you’re going to leave 1, 2 or 3 best performing pairs.
Best Practices for Ad Optimization
First of all, come up with a game plan beforehand so you don’t make too many optimizations which, in turn, limit insights into your campaigns. Secondly, give your campaign a run before analysing the performance. Don’t be stingy, remember that you need to invest some money to learn and get the data first. Be ready to spend at least $500-1000 on your tests. Also, prepare yourself mentally for this expense, it will save you a lot of stress.
Watch your iCTR and CTR. Pause ads with the lowest iCTR (meaning that quality of your creatives is low) and the lowest CTR (meaning your audience in this specific angle is not interested in your product). What’s more, once you test a decent sample of traffic, check the differences in iCTR per given site/ widget ID/ ad space ID.
Did you hear about our ad space ID optimization? Ad space ID is even more granular than a widget ID as it allows you to bid on a single ad placement on a website or inside a mobile app. You can learn a bit more about this feature in our documentation. Besides, don’t forget to check the report for best converting OS/browser/connection type and increase the bid by 20-30% if some browsers/OS convert well.
And remember – do not rest on your laurels. Add at least a few more image variations every couple of days. If you try your best, you can always be better.
Let’s Sum It All Up
It’s time to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021. It was a challenging year for almost every industry, but it’s time to leave it behind and start with a fresh mind and new goals. So, what will 2021 bring? Is native advertising still worth the hype? Based on the experts’ opinions, native ads are here to stay, stronger than ever. With their non-invasive look and format, this type of ad continually brings remarkable results.
If you’re just starting your advertising journey, keep in mind the tips mentioned above; they will definitely help you craft impressive ads that attract clients. In case you still need some help, our blog articles will give you some more insight & instruction from our team and teach you how to manage effective native ad campaigns like a pro.