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Achieving success in native advertising can sometimes feel like a complex science experiment – from testing out different creatives to choosing targets to adjusting your bids, it’s easy to lose track that it’s really a simple step-by-step process.
Optimization is the name of the game, and it’s easiest to start building and scaling native campaigns when you follow these four consecutive optimization phases.
At Revcontent, we’re lucky to work with many amazing advertisers who systematically and consistently optimize their campaigns – but we also sort through with dozens of questions on a daily basis that all come back to issues within these four steps.
We first saw these phases laid out on Brax’s native ads optimization guide and thought it was the best way we’d seen them aggregated.
Let’s start from the beginning!
Phase 1 = Optimize Creative Angles
It’s difficult to win in native advertising with a poor creative. If a poor creative is the backbone of your campaign, it’ll eventually stall out, stop spending at all, or make your CPC skyrocket.
However, on the flipside, a strong creative can make even poor placements and targets work.
After looking at 1.1 million+ ads currently on the Revcontent network, we found 7 DAYS is the average time it takes for your creative to get exhausted.
Within 7 days, your CTR is half of what it was on Day 1. Within 14 days, it’s another 50% down.
In this first stage of your campaign, test out multiple variations of very different images and headlines to see what resonates. For one URL, we recommend 5 variations of highly different imagery and headline copy.
After looking at impressions and CTRs for those first 5 creatives after 3-5 days, analyze the data and see if any of them are working.
We recommend at least the following CTRs as targets:
- Direct Response CTR: 0.4-0.6%
- ARB CTR: 0.5-0.8%
If your first 5 creatives simply aren’t hitting the benchmarks, create another mix of 5 to test.
Repeat until your image/headline combination is meeting or exceeding your ideal CTR.
Several creatives hitting ideal CTR = Phase 1 Done! ✔️
Phase 2 = Optimize Landing Page Engagement/Conversion
Once you’ve established an excellent starting point CTR with a strong performance creative, you want to move down to optimize the next phase of your funnel – typically, your landing page or conversion offering.
Once a solid stream of users at an ideal cost are entering your funnel, you’ll want to maximize on the buying ability of those users.
This phase is where we see many advertisers lose focus. Especially with native campaigns, advertisers can get wrapped up in everything that happens in the platform itself, ignoring the variables they can control on their end.
While at Revcontent we do not advise on landing page optimization, we encourage advertisers to generally follow these best practices.
- Follow standard patterns and consistency – Users expect to see visually similar sign up and download flows. Be cautious of deviation from expected patterns in the name of creativity.
- Place call to action above the fold – the headline of your website captures 80% of your audience’s attention. Simply tweaking your headline to split test can give users a clearer idea of what to expect, encourage them to take action, or assure them they’re in the right place.
- Understand copy hierarchy – from headlines to subheadings to body copy, Internet users expect to see a visual hierarchy of copy. With bolded phrases, italicized words, or underlined sentences, we let these cues guide our eyes down the page, alerting us to what’s important and what’s not.
For landing pages, industry standards vary but a solid landing page conversion will go a long way in keeping funnel costs down and conversion rates up. Below are some average rates pulled from Wordstream.
- Median = Converting at 2.5%
- Top 25% = Converting at 5.3%
- Top 10% = Converting at 11% and above
Landing page optimized = Phase 2 Done! ✔️
Phase 3 = Optimize Placements
Maybe the most counterintuitive place for this phase, but we often see advertisers agonize over the placements early on. It does feel natural to get picky about where your ads are being shown, but when you’re utilizing a strong native ad network like Revcontent with tons of high-quality publishers, the majority of placements will give you solid traffic with an excellent creative.
On most native ad networks, you can easily adjust your campaigns by topic or website, even going as granular as to adjust your bid on a widget level setting.
Turn off low-performing widgets, and ensure you have a diverse variety of solid widgets or websites driving traffic.
Starting with a strong creative makes it much easier for your ads to work on many different websites, truly giving you the opportunity to open up to more volume and scale. Which brings us to our next phase.
Once you have your placements optimized, it’s time to fire up the final step.
Phase 4 = Scale
Ah, the magic word. Once you have an excellent creative, and ideal CTR, your landing page is optimized, and you found audiences that work for you…. it’s time to scale.
Now, what exactly can scaling mean?
- On individual widgets or websites performing well, bid up one or two more cents. Especially on networks like Revcontent, with bid by widget abilities, you’re telling the algorithm you want more of this specific traffic.
- Adjusting overall campaign budgets by 10-20% every few days – ensuring all your metrics stay on track
We encourage advertisers to start with high bids so they can get traffic from distribution. Once they see what is performing, split test their creatives, and optimize their landing page, they can begin to adjust bids at the widget level.
When starting, our recommended approach is to launch with a high bid. As you start getting traffic, adjust your bids at the widget level using your CTR in our system as well as the landing page to offer CTR. Adjust bids a cent or two per day. As you adjust CPCs by a few cents, this will allow you to hone in on the best performing rate for your ROI.
Once you get a campaign optimized, you will want to increase your daily budget as this opens you up to more scale and volume.
Getting your native ad campaign to profitable scale seems daunting, and it can take weeks of trial and error. Once you’re confident in your funnel, though, you’ll maintain a great source of traffic and revenue outside the walled gardens of social media platforms.