How Not to Waste Money on Native Advertising

Investing in a native advertising campaign should be your priority. But, how to do make sure you won’t waste money on a bunch of purposeless practices?
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By Keith Coppersmith
Business Consultant
Adelaide, South Australia
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As the number of your competitors is growing in the digital ecosystem, appearing high in the organic search is now more difficult than ever. SEO is today the investment in the long run, requiring lots of patience and dedication.

Therefore, if you want to enhance your online exposure faster, you need to invest in paid ads.

However, not all types of paid ads are equally relevant to your target audience. Stats back me up on that, showing that 56% of ads go unseen, while only 0.17% of users who see the ad really click on it. Your goal is to make your ads highly engaging, valuable to your visitors and, above all, less intrusive.

And, this is where native advertising comes as a blessing from the skies.

Investing in a native advertising campaign should be your priority. But, how to do make sure you won’t waste money on a bunch of purposeless practices?

Why invest in native advertising?

Unlike display ads that usually feel aggressive and don’t necessarily match the content relevant to the reader, native ads are better targeted. Be it advertorials in the newspapers or sponsored posts on social networks, a native ad is tailored specifically to match the overall feel and structure of the platform it shows up on.

If you’re still not sold on them, here are a few advantages of native ads you should keep in mind:

  • Bringing greater value to users
  • Boosting user engagement
  • Increasing purchase intent
  • Enhancing brand awareness by 82%

So, investing in a native advertising campaign should be your priority. But, how to do make sure you won’t waste money on a bunch of purposeless practices?

Let’s find out!

1. Allocate enough resources to your campaign

The native advertising spend keeps growing at an astounding rate and is projected to reach $10 billion by 2020. But, how much does launching a powerful native advertising campaign really cost?

Statistics say that getting your ad placed on reputable sites like Time can even reach $200,000. On the other hand, launching a native ad campaign on sites with the domain authority higher than 80 (meaning that the site’s relevance to the niche is high) costs $35,482 on average.

RELATED: Creating Native Advertising on a Small Budget – This Is How to Do It

So, let’s first discuss the role of your budget in the success of your campaign. Native ads work on the pay-to-play principle. Given the stats mentioned above, the initial budget for your campaign should vary somewhere between $5,000 and $30,000, depending on the publisher, the number of banners and native ad spots, whether you have an in-house content team or you’re outsourcing content production, the tools you use, and a plethora of other factors. Otherwise, your native advertising game will probably end early.

Why?

The reason is simple- the more you pay, the more opportunities you get. There are three basic processes you need to keep in mind when setting your budget and breaking it down into smaller chunks. These are creation, testing, and implementation.

RELATED: “A/B Testing is the Number One Most Missed Opportunity for Marketers”

Small budgets don’t give you the opportunity to run the tests audits as you should. And, if you don’t know what type of content or formats resonate with your target audience, you’ll probably end up wasting money on practices that don’t work.

Just like the famous phrase says “If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.”

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Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t track your CTR or views at all. However, you need to look at the bigger picture and combine them with other relevant metrics.

2. Measuring the wrong KPIs = Making bad decisions

Another critical place where many marketers may lose money is tracking the wrong metrics. If you’re relying on a publisher’s metrics such as the click-through rate, views, and social shares, you’re doomed. Just like Claire Austin said beautifully in an interview for Native Advertising Institute, these KPIs are vanity metrics.

For example, when observed in isolation, what do hundreds of clicks tell you? They make you feel amazing about the performance of your ad and content, but they actually give you no information about how relevant this traffic is and how engaged your readers are. Many marketers fall for these gorgeous figures and, consequently, keep wasting money on the content and formats that don’t convert.

RELATED: “Stop Measuring Things for the Sake of It”

Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t track your CTR or views at all. However, you need to look at the bigger picture and combine them with other relevant metrics.

Start by asking yourself what your goals were when you started writing content and decided to promote it using native ads? It’s probably boosting brand awareness, positioning yourself as an authoritative source of information, and increasing people’s engagement with your content.

Precisely because of that, brand lift is one of the most prominent KPI you need to track, as it tells you how your native ads impact your brand awareness, purchase intent, ad recall, favorability, and other metrics critical for your branding success.

Video engagement metrics may also help and, by them, I don’t mean video views. Measure your average video view duration. See how many people watch your video from beginning to end. What parts of your video content are most watched? These are the measurements that make sense, as they really give you a hint of how successful your efforts are.

You need set the right objectives for every aspect of the customer journey and measure the return on these objectives.

The same goes for ROI

Yes, you’ve probably read a million times now that return on investment is critical for the success of your campaigns. But, does it really work for your native ads? Well, no, as you should track the entire customer journey and not just the last click.

RELATED: How to Use Data When Working with Native Advertising

In the interview mentioned above, Austin also emphasizes that calculating ROO, or the return on objective, is what matters here. In short, you need set the right objectives for every aspect of the customer journey and measure the return on these objectives.

It’s not only simpler, but also a far more accurate way to know whether you’re gaining profits or wasting money.

You need to audit how many actual customers visit your site by clicking on your ad.

3. Understand the sources of your traffic

So, your CTR is growing impressively fast. Now, we’ve already mentioned how irrelevant clicks are for your campaign success. But, did I mention they can be dangerous, too?

According to the 2016 Bot Traffic Report, more than half of web traffic is driven by bots. Non-human clicks on your ads can heavily hurt your bottom line and even lead to dangerous click frauds that may ruin your online presence.

Bot traffic can also be a result of your competitors’ fraudulent actions. Namely, they may hire click farms to drain your budget and even get your ads removed by Google. Worse yet, whether it’s an online hack or just another spammy activity financed by your rivals, you’re paying for the bot traffic.

RELATED: Why Honesty Is the Key to Successful Native Advertising

You need to audit how many actual customers visit your site by clicking on your ad. For example, if you notice that your CTR and traffic are growing rapidly, while your engagement metrics are unsatisfactory, this is a clear signal that something’s wrong with your native advertising campaign.

Even though you won’t be able to completely prevent bots from targeting your ads, you will be able to mitigate the risks. For example, you can invest in fraud prevention tools like ClickCease, Clickguard, or Areyouhuman that are designed specifically to eliminate most of the non-human traffic.

To stop wasting your resources on the keywords that simply don’t work for you, start by analyzing the campaign data for the last few months.

4. Focus on optimizing those strategies that convert

Optimization is the backbone of your native advertising campaign, as it is directly related to the performance of your ads and the gains it generates.

Narrow your keyword list

If the “the more the merrier” rule is still your guiding star through your keyword research, you need to rethink your approach. Irrelevant keywords will drive the irrelevant traffic to your site and, yet, you will have to pay for it. I’ll remind you of the famous Pareto 80:20 principle that claims that 20% of your keywords drive 80% of your conversions.

Your focus should be on this 20% – if you get me.

RELATED: Manual Ad Optimisation – A Thing from the Past? (Sponsored Post)

To stop wasting your resources on the keywords that simply don’t work for you, start by analyzing the campaign data for the last few months. Look for the keywords that have generated at least one conversion over the selected timeframe and eliminate the rest. Then, look for those keywords with a cost per conversion (CPC) higher than your target cost per acquisition (CPA).

If you need to pay for a customer more than they’re worth to your business, then it’s a clear indicator that the keyword is not worth your while.

If you still believe that you can promote poorly written and spammy content using native ads, this is not going to work.

The quality and relevance of content should be your priority

Content is the greatest inbound marketing tactic that may bring marvellous benefits to your site. It increases your online reputation, grows your brand awareness, engages your readers, and builds emotional relationships with them.

Digital marketing stats say that more than half of B2B marketers don’t see the importance of content. So, if you still believe that you can promote poorly written and spammy content using native ads, this is not going to work.

RELATED: A Truly Excellent Concept Needs Creative Space, Distribution and Optimisation

Native ads are just another channel that drives traffic to your content. They serve to engage people, to spark their interest in your content, and get them to click on it.

Invest a part of your budget in experimenting with different ad formats and content and run A/B tests regularly.

But, what happens once they land on your site?

Well, the answer is pretty clear. If the content isn’t quality enough or doesn’t cover the topics relevant to them, they will leave it before converting. So, what to do to get them to stay on your page longer and, preferably, take the desired action?

  • Stop writing branded, self-serving content. Instead, focus on creating the posts that are relevant to your industry and bring true value to your target readers.
  • Don’t write generic posts. Every industry has its own set of terms and you need to adapt your writing style to them to increase engagement.
  • Analyze the publisher’s site before writing content. The native ads should match the tone, form, and writing style of the site. Most importantly, your content needs to match the content relevant to the publisher. So do your research, see what topics they write about, and come up with a catchy topic that would resonate with their readers.
  • Invest in other content formats. Articles are great, but do they really convert? Well, not really. Stats say that 43% of readers just skim blog posts. Humans are visual beings and, to keep them focused, make your content more exciting and easier to digest. For example, after watching a video, 64% of readers are more likely to make a purchase. Always allocate your budgets to those forms of posts that resonate with your audiences.

And, it’s worth mentioning again – invest a part of your budget in experimenting with different ad formats and content and run A/B tests regularly. This is the only way to understand the market demands and spend money on the tactics that work.

You just need to do your homework, build a solid native ad strategy, and implement it wisely.

Wrapping it up

When used wisely, native advertising is one of the most flexible, dynamic, and powerful content promotion tactics available to marketers.

However, you just need to do your homework, build a solid native ad strategy, and implement it wisely.

These are the key tips that will help you form a profitable native ad strategy and, hopefully, prevent you from wasting money.

Become a better native advertiser while on the go – listen to our podcast The Native Advertising PowerHouse 

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