Post by Dan Malachowski, Marketing Director THE NATIVE OPPORTUNITY Seventy percent of people want to learn about products/services through content, rather than ads (Inc. 2014).  Most brands understand this, and they’ve increased their efforts in Content Marketing in recent years.  According to Econsultancy, Content Marketing was the number one growth focus for companies in 2014, with 74 percent of brands boosting Content Marketing budget year-over-year.  In fact, Content Marketing is now estimated to be a $135 billion global opportunity, with 27 million pieces of content shared online each day (WebDAM Solutions, NewsCred 2014). So this begs the question: How can my brand stand out amongst all this clutter to engage a relevant, content-hungry audience across today’s fragmented digital discovery and purchase path?  At Performics, our Performance Content team creates and optimizes content for visibility in search, social and content networks.  Achieving visibility for content—for example, in organic search—often requires a longer-term vision and strategy.  But, in the shorter-term, native advertising is often a great way to quickly distribute fresh performance content and gain visibility in front of the right audience, at the right time, for the right price.  Native advertising is thus performance media that is fueled by performance content. Native advertising is poised to explode in 2015.  To illustrate, U.S. native ad spend is expected to grow 34.4 percent to $4.3 billion in 2015, according to eMarketer.  The majority of this spend will be focused on social and native-style display: native ads   BEST PRACTICES for BRANDS Native advertising gives performance marketers the opportunity to extend content reach and attract new customers beyond traditional performance channels like paid search, the Google Display Network (GDN), ad exchanges or retargeting.  But native advertising success depends upon a number of factors:

  1. Content! In order to succeed in native advertising, you need a constant stream of engaging, timely content (that people will click on and share).  This remains a concern for many brands; 44 percent identify content production as their biggest Content Marketing challenge (Oracle Eloqua, 2014).  Many brands are now overcoming this obstacle by augmenting in-house content production with agencies (47 percent use an agency (Oracle Eloqua, 2014)).
  2. Audience Targeting: One of the hallmarks of performance marketing is the ability to precisely engage target audiences (e.g. by keyword used, demographics, geo, device, browsing history, time-of-day, etc.). Precise targeting is also available in many native ad formats. However, this requires a deep understanding of your customer base: age, gender, interests, geo, sites they traffic.  Native ads can only perform if they’re in front of the right audience.
  3. Paid & Owned Alignment: Native advertising cannot be planned or activated in a silo. It needs to be part of a holistic strategy around the ad experience (e.g. the paid native ad) and the content (e.g. the landing page).  How can we better set up landing page content to succeed?  One way is to deliver more qualified and relevant customers to this content in the first place.  This includes aligning content with ads, such as creating native ad headlines and descriptions that match landing pages.
  4. Goals & Measurement: Your native advertising goals may differ from your paid search or regular display advertising goals.  For instance, primary Content Marketing goals are often centered on the top funnel (e.g. demand/lead generation, lead nurturing and brand awareness) rather than the bottom funnel (conversions).  According to Econsultancy, only 24 percent of marketers rate their company’s ability to measure ROI from content as “good” (as compared to 51 percent in paid search).  Align goals with measurement to better quantify the impact of native advertising on your bottom line.

HOW to ACTIVATE & SUCCESS STORIES  Native advertising publishers and distribution partners are continually growing; and what constitutes the “native” format is often loosely defined—Buzzfeed, Conde Nast, Facebook, Yahoo!/Tumblr, Outbrain, etc.  Native ads can be targeted to large-scale audiences and command premium-rate pricing (e.g. Forbes reported in 2013 that Buzzfeed was charging $92,300 per native ad campaign): native ads 2 Or, native ads can engage custom audiences and operate via a CPM or cost-per-click (CPC) model.  The CPC opportunities—coupled with precise targeting options—often align closest to performance marketing campaigns.  Below, we illustrate a few of these performance-based native opportunities: Yahoo!/Tumblr Native Ads

  • Opportunity & Reach: Yahoo! native ads run across Yahoo!-owned and partner properties.  Yahoo! is the world’s largest digital publisher (800MM registered users and guests) and provides reach across mobile, apps, Yahoo! News, the Yahoo! homepage, Tumblr and Yahoo! Mail.
  • Format: The native ads match the visual design of the pages they live on, with the look and feel of organic content. For instance, Yahoo! Stream Ads are tightly woven into the content stream on users’ Yahoo! homepages and category pages (e.g. News, Sports, Finance, Health):

native ads 3

  • Targeting: In true performance fashion, Yahoo! native ads can be targeted based on age, gender and interests (e.g. sports, travel, tech, style, finance, health)
  • Pricing: Can be bought on a CPC-basis; impressions are an added benefit at no cost
  • Results: For one Performics client (over three months), we saw:
    • 55% lower CPCs than Google Display Network (GDN)
    • 186% higher click-through rates (CTR) vs. GDN
    • 30% more clicks than GDN
    • 51% more leads than GDN, resulting in a 16% higher conversion rate

native ads 4 Outbrain Amplify

  • Opportunity & Reach: Outbrain Amplify distributes content across the largest content publishers on the Web, including, ESPN, Mashable, Fast Company and Slate
  • Format:  Outbrain’s native ads are contextually linked to content within the native environment they live on.  The content is often presented as “Promoted Stories,” “You May Also Like,” or “From Around the Web”:

native ads 5

  • Targeting: Content can be tailored by publisher and placement, and narrowed by DMA
  • Pricing: Can be bought on a CPC-basis; impressions are an added benefit at no cost
  • Results: In testing for a number of Performics CPG clients, Outbrain ads have driven large numbers of impressions with CTRs and clicks comparable to Yahoo! Stream Ads and higher than GDN

WHAT’S NEXT for NATIVE The native advertising space is quickly growing (and becoming more muddled).  We expect new native opportunities on the horizon from networks like Microsoft.  Many native opportunities align closely with performance marketing campaigns—in terms of pricing, bidding and targeting—and all brands should consider native as an additional channel to distribute performance content. For more information on Native Advertising best practices and opportunities, please contact your Performics Account Team today.

March 10, 2015

Native Advertising: Integrating Performance Content & Performance Media to Boost Visibility across the Discovery Path

Post by Dan Malachowski, Marketing Director THE NATIVE OPPORTUNITY Seventy percent of people want to learn about products/services through content, rather than ads (Inc. 2014).  Most […]
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Google Expanding “Mobile-Friendliness” as an Organic Ranking Signal: Mobile Content Optimization Critical to Performance

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3 of the Biggest Innovations at CES 2015: Auto Tech, More “Things” and Fitness Wearables

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Performics POV: Google I/O Conversational Search Highlights the Importance of Cross-Screen Marketing Strategies

At its I/O 2013 Conference, Google announced the introduction of “Conversational Search” on desktop devices via its Chrome browser.  Users can now ask Google questions on […]

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