5 Deadly Sins That Sabotage Your Native Campaigns

On 25/02/2019 by Araceli Almada

Good native advertising entertains, informs and interacts to sell a product or build a brand to greatness. Get it wrong, however, and consumers will have no problem sending your brand down the steps to purgatory. Look no further than the death of traditional media. 

We’re sharing with you 5 deadly sins you may be making in native advertising, and solutions to help you understand your audience’s sensitivity to creativity. 

1. A valueless headline

An article is like a campaign. While writing this, I’m thinking about how it will perform with you - my audience. I seek your attention, but more importantly, I want you engaged. To get the desired results - high page views, time spent on page, and click rates - I must highlight the value of reading this article, providing solutions to a problem. Whether you decide to read what is said is determined by the appeal of my headline; it should peak your interest to discover more. Without a reason to engage in the message, content is doomed to be forgotten. Unfortunately, many marketers lose sight of the difference a top performing headline makes, thinking great content doesn’t need support. 

Tip: The power of your headline is what turns skimmers into readers. While the rest of your copy is important, a good headline that evokes curiosity is crucial to performance. For example, starting your headline with ‘How to’ shows power and credibility that readers will learn or improve something for a desired outcome. Numbers are effective to help guide the reader through a useful list of things. Power words and adjectives connect emotion and emphasize the importance of your content. Posing a question that doesn’t easily answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ adds intrigue for your audience to know more about your proposal. Another good rule of thumb is to frame your headline to roughly 6-8 words and avoid possible double meanings.

2. Unconnected imagery 

If you think of experiences in your life, there are images that stand out. The goal is the same for marketers and the need to connect images to experiences. If I want to illustrate an experience for my audience, I need a powerful image to do 3 things: capture your attention, bring my message to life, and be responsive in order to stay memorable. Since the image will be the first thing you see, it has to visually communicate to you right off the bat. People respond best to images, yet many marketers just assume an image will perform if it looks pretty, ignorant to the fact a visual makes or breaks the experience provided of a campaign! 

Tip: Your image should match the theme of your story; otherwise, you immediately create a disconnect between yourself and the reader. When you’ve identified the theme of your image, look for ones that adopt bright colors in order to stand out and ‘pop’ on the page. When applicable, use human faces to make it feel more personable. Because faces convey emotion, look for the ones that best relate to the emotion you want evoked from your audience. Images that include animals are another communicative tool to elicit an emotional response. Avoid friction, however, by having your image elements be consistent with that of your landing page. Consistency creates a seamless experience as readers move from a publisher page to yours.

3. De-prioritizing the landing page 

Someone is interested in you, so now what? Your landing page, that’s what! Sadly, many marketers forget to prioritize it, creating an uncomfortable situation like a teenage boy too indecisive to kiss the girl despite underlying mutual interest. Why the reference? Because without a valuable landing page, you fail to carry the momentum forward, stalling the conversation post-click and making it confusing for both parties. That’s the consequence of an unclear call to action, asking too many questions, or providing unnecessary information. It’s all a distraction from the objective! An ill-fated landing page will also hinder your reputation, as you let ‘the one’ move on to someone else because you didn’t seal the deal when given the chance. 

Tip: Your landing page should be action-based, short, and clear. From the outset, your landing page should have visitors engaged. You want to remove any distractions or options your visitors can take and have them focus on the one action you want them to do: convert. Commit to your call to action, whether that conversion is to contact, sign up, download, purchase, educate or entertain. Optimize your landing page to see what visitors respond to best; test different colors, images, copy, and form fields to see what’s the most optimal combination for conversion boosts. The shorter and simpler your dedicated landing page is, the better. 

4. Overusing ‘blocklists’ 

It’s important to be selective where you advertise, but let’s not use it as an excuse to be overly picky. White and blacklists are, for a better word, blocklists. When used properly, they yield tremendous benefits in protecting the brand experience and ensuring real leads. The issue is finding a sensible balance when using them. Brands can make the mistake of overusing one extreme, either blocking their ads on so many sites that it limits consumer demand, or maximizing a whitelist to the point where little ad inventory remains. Now, imagine if everyone overused a blocklist: advertisers would have to compete for low remaining inventory, driving up the ad price to the benefit of publishers, or their campaigns would not yield optimal returns. 

Tip: Instead of choosing one end of the spectrum, find a happy medium. Determine what brand safety actually means to you. Does it include a publisher’s UX and UI? How about their ad placements and layout? The point is, blocklists aren’t just about fighting digital ad fraud. The ideal method in finding a happy medium is to block as few publishers as possible while still protecting your brand from fake clicks or being alongside fake news and hateful content. These lists have an effect on your business, so set your standard and rules on what sites make a list. Indeed, it’s about quality over quantity, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose money to get there

5. Placing your eggs in one basket 

Like with any marketing strategy, it is important to diversify and adapt with A/B testing. The same can be said for your native advertising campaigns. Native is meant to be a long-term strategy, optimizing in real time to deliver the best results for long-term growth. Put simply, it’s unrealistic to expect your campaign to have optimal success on the first try. It takes an investment in time and effort to resonate with an audience, and that is only done by testing different variations for the best performance. Even if you get lucky on the first attempt, it doesn’t mean your job is done, as it would be shortsighted to think it will continue to be effective later when ad fatigue sets in. 

Tip: Whether you run a native campaign on display or video, mobile or desktop, you set yourself up for the greatest success by launching a variety of ads to speed up the process of finding the best connection to your audience. It’s one format, but it’s innovative with its flexibility, so don’t think your success is contingent on a single creative and placement. Understand the intricacies of every platform and device you are building for because good advertising is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Test multiple image, headline, and copy variations, and based on performance, focus on combinations with the best potential. The more you test and learn from campaigns, the more your advertising will improve. 

Find our tips helpful? Contact us today and launch your native advertising campaigns!