5 Common Native Ad Mistakes You Don't Want To Make

07 Nov 5 Common Native Ad Mistakes You Don't Want To Make

While the “Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web,” a page-one story in yesterday’s print edition of The New York Times, didn’t precisely declare banner ads dead, it certainly had little good to say about the ad format.

Twenty years ago last month, a team of well-meaning designers, coders and magazine publishers inadvertently unleashed on an unsuspecting world one of the most misguided and destructive technologies of the Internet age: the web banner ad…

These days, finally, the banner ad is in decline. That is because the web, the medium in which it has thrived, is also in decline. Today we live in a mobile, social world, spending most of our time online using apps that load faster and are much prettier and more useful than websites. Instead of banners, many of these apps, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, make money through ads that appear in users’ social feeds, rather than off to the side of the page.

This sort of makes the case for why native advertising had to be invented. It also makes one wonder how we will look back on native advertising in 20 years.

The story of banner ads is a cautionary tale for native. Over use and poor execution could undermine trust in our institutions.

The story of banner ads is a cautionary tale for native. Over use and poor execution could undermine trust in our institutions.

As we have talked about this week, native ads should be like gifts to the reader: useful, truthful, fun and entertaining content that puts the reader first. Native advertising works best when supported by social media from both your newspaper and the advertiser. As important, native advertising is perfect for mobile devices. In fact, according to Polar, native ads on mobile devices get twice the click-through rate (CTR) and engagement compared to desktops. We have also talked about how to help your advertisers understand this opportunity and why you need to help advertisers help themselves before, during and after the sale.

What if you need a little help?

I have said many times that there are no experts in native advertising. That is as true today in the fast-changing environment as it was when we first started working with clients to produce native ads more than a year ago. However, we now work with more than 40 newspapers, TV stations and radio outlets to produce native ads and help them with their strategy. We have learned some things along the way. As is evidenced by this week’s worth of blogs, we are more than happy to share what we think we know at no cost to you at all.

Why? Native advertising represents the best opportunity to get a premium price for online advertising that has come along so far. However, we fear that just as banner ads were misused and abused, as an industry we have the potential to screw up native. Unfortunately, the native advertising stakes are higher than they were for banner ads. Native bad-vertising could undermine all of the trust you have built up over time for your franchise.

We are Americans. We all have that can-do attitude. We kind of like going it alone. That’s all well and good. Here are five common mistakes we see customers making with native:

  1. Charging too little. We can’t get much for banner ads on our site so we assume we can’t charge more, in some cases a lot more, for native.
  2. Basing native ad  prices on impressions. Impression-based online pricing is like putting your site on the hamster wheel. The number of impressions in any local market is finite. Once you hit that threshold, you will never be able to raise prices. Charge a value price instead, based on the long tail benefits of native advertising.
  3. Cheaping out on the creative. IF a freelancer will give the ad a creative twist, include key words across a campaign and source interesting or unusual graphics that are likely to get shared, then go for it. If not, you will not get the best results possible for your advertisers from a native campaign. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
  4. Overlooking social media. Not only make social media part of your native advertising plan, but also work hard to make it part of your advertiser’s plan. We fervently believe social media is the secret sauce that juices results from native campaigns. Omit it at your peril.
  5. Selling native advertising instead of  the opportunity for an advertiser to tell her story on your home page.

Our mission is to help our clients use smart content strategies to preserve local journalism. Yes, we also want to make a reasonable profit by partnering with you to make native advertising work in your market. We want to learn alongside you.

CTW offers strategic consulting, onsite and virtual sales training, content creation and online verticals where native ads go to live and be seen again and again. We would love to have the opportunity to talk with you about your plans and needs and there’s absolutely no cost for that.

Whatever you do, don’t plunge into native until you have a solid strategy and policies to execute against. Native can be a game changer. It will be a game changer provided we don’t make it the next banner ad.

I welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas. Please comment here or email me: paul@contentthatworks.com