Building a strong native ad campaign for your content can be a complex and time-consuming process. Choosing the right headline, developing engaging content, presenting the content in the right format, and optimizing images for reader engagement are just a few of the many steps that must be taken.
To help aid in the creation of top-performing native ad content, numerous case studies have been researched and published.
So how can a native ad creator ultimately win in a game of ever-changing standards and practices?
Unfortunately, there is so much disseminated information about how to create top performing campaigns that creators often become lost in a sea of data that can become detrimental to their success.
So how can a native ad creator ultimately win in a game of ever-changing standards and practices? The simple answer is; understanding and testing.
This month the Native Advertising Institute is focused on case studies within the industry. There is no doubt that the information being presented has provided value to the agencies, brands, and other creators that have replicated the studies and found success. Unfortunately, not every successful campaign will work for every user.
Rather than diving into the various case studies available, we’ve provided some tips for choosing how to vet and implement case studies for native advertising campaigns.
Start with a full understanding of your content scope
Do you publish DIY articles for a home goods brand? Is your content focused on delivering software downloads? Are you representing a services company? Scoping out what type of content you are producing will help hyper-target the type of case studies that are likely to perform best.
Here are a few important content creation considerations:
• The vertical of your content (software, hardware, apparel, services, etc)
• The tone of voice for the brand you are representing (journalistic, informative, casual, etc)
• The content type you are focused on delivering (general news, informational pieces, listicles, update, etc)
• The narrative of the content (standalone content, content that will develop over time with a narrative, company updates, etc)
The goal is to figure out the exact type of content you will be using so you can focus on case studies that have delivered actionable results for your specific content and native advertising needs.
The case study selection process
Once you understand your content scope, you can begin to pour over case studies that match your industry, your specific product offering, and even your tone of voice.
Examine the actual campaigns that were studied and align their goals with your own.
With thousands of case studies to choose from, it’s important to determine what is going to work so you don’t spin your wheels with a plug-and-play model that will almost certainly consume more time than necessary.
An industry approach is the easiest way to begin this process:
• Search for case studies published by competitors, agencies, and researchers in your vertical.
• Examine the actual campaigns that were studied and align their goals with your own.
• Create a list of actionable items from each case study that can be mimicked as close to the study as possible.
• Search for campaigns that are implementing the suggestions from the case study. Study the results of those campaigns when possible.
Be diligent in your testing and segment your results
One of the biggest traps native advertisers fall into is not understanding why their campaigns are working or failing.
For this reason, it’s suggested that you run multiple campaigns that each focus on different actionable suggestions aggregated from various case studies.
If you attempt to create campaigns based on numerous case study suggestions, you may find success but not have a measurable way to determine why those campaigns are successful.
Don’t just think about the content, think about the setup
A recent article on Native Advertising Institute touches on the importance of understanding how your content is set up. The article features comments from Ekin Ozenci, a Mobile Product Specialist at Google, make sure to give it a read to understand some of the most important considerations for how you should look at displaying your content for readers.
These type of questions can help determine the type of content you produce.
Are you targeting a mobile audience? Is your content focused on delivering an immediate desire to buy a product? Is there a certain stylized brand play that you need to follow? These type of questions can help determine the type of content you produce.
A highly-segmented mobile audience tends to gravitate towards short-form content and videos which are easier to consume from mobile devices. If you’re targeting C-Suite executives you may want to create pieces of content with in-depth analysis and calls to action that can streamline their processes and drive immediate improvements to their ROI.
Your content should experience a higher ROI if you deliver it in a manner likely to be highly consumable and sharable for the particular audience you are targeting.
The setup includes where you place your content
It’s not just about how you display your content, but also where you display it. A successful native advertising campaign on Revcontent or Taboola might deliver the results you desire if it features immediately actionable headlines.
A native ad company such as Sharethrough can deliver results with more upfront content displayed on higher-end publications. Whereas, a Nativo sponsored post with long-form content might engage with an audience more because the full scope of your content can be published directly on a publications platform.
Testing your campaigns against various types of ad networks is paramount to finding success.
Testing your campaigns against various types of ad networks is paramount to finding success. Be diligent in following all of the metrics that matter to your campaign. If your end goal is sales, a higher cost-per-click might be worth the cost if you convert more sales. If educating an audience about your brand or services is important, sponsored content directly on a website may lead to better thought leadership and earned audience engagement.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Case studies are often published because an agency, brand, industry expert or research firm are attempting to figure out the segment they are targeting and improve upon their own processes.
Opening up a dialogue with a case studies creator is a great way to optimize your own campaigns. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the struggles they faced with their studies, the successes they have experienced since publishing their studies, and the next steps they plan to take.
It’s important to remember that a case study is a moment frozen in time. After a study is published their is a high probability that the creator learned from their experiences, pivoted to a different model, or chose to focus on only certain aspects of the case study to drive better results.
By forming a partnership with a case studies creator you may be able to work together in an effort to drive even better results, perhaps leading to improved processes for everyone involved.
Ultimately, case studies can be an important factor in driving awareness, engagement, and ultimately sales. However, if you only execute directly based on the studies findings, you may miss your audience segments, focus on steps that are outside of your campaigns scope, and spend countless hours on the wrong metrics.
A deep understanding of your audience, the metrics that have driven success for your campaigns in the past based on vertical, and the willingness to test different theories, will deliver the most success for your efforts.
Be diligent, be resourceful, and always be willing to test, re-test, and test again. Case studies are not plug-and-play and the sooner you realize that fact, the faster you can reach success with your native advertising efforts.