Native Advertising Video Best Practices in 2019

Create interest; not interruption.
Image of a video shoot

Skærmbillede 2019-10-25 kl. 13.39.21By Eoin Dowdall
Creative Director for Kartoffel Films


Native advertising goes against the traditional marketing mindset. It’s about being non-disruptive, rather than clamouring for attention; blending in, rather than standing out. 

Indeed, native advertising video should appear non-promotional, although you’re really making a clear statement of promotion. 

So, how you do you strike that balance?

One of the most significant mistakes is the temptation to shout too loud; to yell “look here” and to break the precepts of relevance and usefulness.

And while there’s nothing particularly new about native advertising, we see lots of martech businesses using video in invasive ways that degrades perception of brand. 

If you’re looking to increase the ability of your video marketing to generate more business, think subtle; think relevant; think camouflage. 

In this article, we’re going to explore how best practices in native video advertising can optimise your investment in internet real-estate by maintaining usefulness and relevance. 

Why Native Advertising?

Click-Through Rates (CTRs) for banner ads have been on a sharp decline for almost two decades. Internet users are savvy to advertising – we understand the semantics of the salesperson and the patter that accompanies it.

Banner ads get ignored. There’s no way to butter it up. It’s a dying trend

Native ads, on the other hand, are content-based – they look like content, and savvy sites make partnerships with appropriate advertising partners to maintain the tone and theme of their website. 

This may feel limiting. 

But consider:

You’d be unlikely to place a lipstick advert in a men’s restroom in the real-world. 

Best practice for video marketing insists that we apply the same discernment when choosing internet real-estate.

Native ads should sit comfortably alongside editorial content.

A few stats:

  • Consumers engage with native ads 53% more than display and banner ads
  • Native advertising generates an increase of up to 18% in purchase intent
  • Visual engagement with native ads is often slightly higher than the original editorial content

Steer Clear of Autoplay

Autoplay for your video content is – by nature – invasive, especially if it contains sound. 

You want your audience to engage with your content, but you shouldn’t alienate them. An unexpected sound that suddenly blares through speakers is terrible practice, prompting the viewer to close the window promptly. 

You should treat native video as though it were a static image. 

Rather than autoplay, you should create engaging thumbnails which contain a clear Call To Action (CTA). 

For example:

Skærmbillede 2019-10-25 kl. 13.16.13

These simple thumbnails contain minimal in-picture text but confirm what you’re likely to get with the video content. The accompanying title helps to create thematic relevance for the host site.

Pre-Roll and In-Stream Video

Many martech experts are completely dropping pre-roll and in-stream advertising altogether. 

Autoplay ads crow-barred into the middle of other video content is considered the height of rudeness: invasive, annoying, and it certainly doesn’t present your brand in a positive light. 

It’s likely to force the viewer to jettison their viewing altogether – and your brand’s name will be the last thing they see as they swear at the screen. 

Nobody wants that. 

Mid-roll video is particularly frustrating for most users because you’re interrupting content that they’ve chosen to watch. You’re stealing the limelight like a passive-aggressive cousin at a Christmas party; demanding attention when you really want to be elsewhere. 

It’s not a great introduction to your brand. 

It’s All about User Experience

Ad-blocking has risen in prevalence, with many internet browsers incorporating native gate-keeping technologies. 

The increased popularity of ad-blocking suggests that internet users do not want intrusive ad-formats that obstruct navigation. 

Native video advertising should integrate into the content of the page; offering usefulness to the user – not obstruction. 

The Coalition for Better Ads

The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) has developed a protocol for an improved browsing experience; pointing us towards a framework of Best Practice for Native Video. 

The CBA developed their protocol through research involving over 66,000 web users, and their findings cover the use of advertising on both desktop and mobile internet experiences. 

They identified the types of ads that rank lowest according to user experience; helping us to determine the advertising behaviours that cause consumers to switch on their ad-blockers. 

So, ignore this at your peril. 

The CBA developed protocols for the following advertising areas:

  • Pop-Up Ads – these include conversion pop-ups that adopt a passive-aggressive tone, i.e., Click “yes” to learn more, accompanied by an “I’m not interested in increasing my income” button. Pop-ups that contain autoplay video are particularly heinous because they eat up data for mobile users and make unnecessary demand for CPUs.  
  • Autoplay with sound – video with sound is a particular bug-bear, usually resulting in jettison of the content by the user. 
  • Large Sticky Ads  – stickies attach themselves to the top or bottom of the screen and take up to 30% of the screen’s real estate. Video incorporated into sticky ads demands excessive processing power, making the entire site run more slowly, impeding the overall User Experience. 

This CBA protocol reinforces the assertion that disruptive advertising is atrocious practice. 

Consider Usefulness as Your Principle Best Practice

Google’s RankBrain wants to understand the usefulness of a website according to visitor behaviours; ultimately affecting a site’s SEO ranking. No site will hold a visitor for long if the advertising is more prominent than the content: the user knows they’re being click-baited.

Video advertising dressed as editorial content is more likely to maintain the duration of a visit. Quick visits degrade SEO ranking; so your video marketing content should integrate appropriately.

Conclusion and Best Practice

When choosing advertising platforms and partners, best practice is to consider the relevance of your video content and how it reinforces the thematic content of that site. If the presence of your ad prevents further engagement with the host site, your content is ineffective and damaging.

The scattergun approach to choosing advertising platforms is long gone. If you want to enhance the perception of your brand, consider the usefulness of your content, and integrate it within the platform. 

Create interest; not interruption. 

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