Options Abound: How to Run an Awesome Native Advertising Campaign

The end goal of most advertising campaigns is increasing awareness, which can be done in an extraordinary number of ways. So vast are the options in fact that one question facing advertisers has to do with discerning which options are actually worth it.

Among those options is amplification—the practice of taking a piece of content and then having it amplified across the pages of other major publishers, your social media accounts and more.

Within amplification lies the option of native advertising. It’s quite likely you’ve seen a piece of native advertising before, and for some marketers, the issue begins there. Not every piece of native advertising is representative.

It’s a bit of a misconception that native advertising has to be presented as clickbait, and it’s unfortunate for web-based software companies hosting those efforts, like Outbrain and Taboola, that so much of the content they push shows up like this: “Local Mom Unveils Six Tricks for Fighting Belly Fat, Now Doctors Hate Her.”

The responsibility for the content being amplified falls entirely on the marketer whose decision it was to push that stuff into the world.  At 4media, we typically aim to do things differently, and so we began our own amplification efforts for a client hoping to drive impressions with genuine headlines that could create conversions.

Southern Regional Amplification

Here’s the list of tips, tricks and advice that will make your move into native advertising easy, understandable and results oriented.

Why So Many Options?

What struck me most about advertising through content placement sites is the nearly unending ability to vary things.  Headline composition, photo placement and market segmentation can all be changed, and you can even select whether or not to push your content to desktops, tablets or mobile devices. So why all the options?

Perhaps most obviously, some of the options available assure the marketer that content is being seen where the client wants it. The capacity to segment regions by DMA, for example, makes sure you can target all of Northwest Arkansas with content relevant to that portion of the state.

But beyond containing extremely useful targeting tools, the other options available in native advertising stand to do even more, and can actually prove pretty insightful.

By allowing marketers to set up and test several headlines, for example, amplification efforts can do more than just help a client, they can inform other decisions in the marketing mix. Here’s what I mean: We set up a campaign for a client dealing with taxes. I wrote three headlines, which I broke down as belonging to categories. One was a direct call to action, the other a question and the last a rephrasing of a worst-case scenario. Within days, something became abundantly clear: People are afraid of that worst case scenario, and were clicking on that headline at a rate almost two times higher than the other options. Here’s an example of a Spanish language campaign, showing the A/B style of different headlines and images.

Content Options All these A/B Tests Digital PR

If you’ve ever studied journalism theory, you know there are a million ways to frame something, and you also know that headline writing isn’t as innocuous as some make it out to be.  The astute marketer should realize that there’s more insight to a winning headline than just improving amplification. If appealing to people’s concerns regarding their tax return is winning the amplification race, then maybe that positioning will win other places too, right?

What about the Budget?

Platforms like Outbrain make budget management relatively simple. They’ll suggest a cost per click to start your campaign, which I accepted every time.  What’s interesting is that once algorithms have had some time to place your content, you can turn down the CPC on the content that’s performing well, and reallocate some of that budget for driving clicks to campaigns performing poorly.

Turning up the CPC, though it does force you to pay more, ultimately serves your content with a bit more regularity and in the spaces the algorithm has determined it will do well.  You can always turn it back down once you’ve piqued the public’s interest.

Setting the daily budget involves fewer fun options.  Remember that on native advertising platforms, just like Google Adwords, you only pay for how many clicks you get. So that daily budget is essentially just a function of the maximum number of clicks you want. But there is one pro tip to be had. The platforms will overspend by as much as 20 percent of what you set when budgeting. So in trying to decide how much to charge a client for your amplification efforts, take into account the possibility that money be overspent.

What Should I do Once It’s … Going?

So you’ve set up your campaign, established a host of interesting headlines to compete against one another, set variant imagery, decided who to target, and finally hit the go button, and now you may feel afraid or unsure.  What to do with your time?

The answer is simple: Manage that stuff.  Pay attention to your headlines to see which ones work. Exclude publishers that aren’t going to produce meaningful results for your client, like that one French website that exclusively serves viral pictures of kittens. Export your numbers, put them in a spreadsheet, and send them to your client. Take tons of screenshots, and maybe you’ll be able to use them in a blog post some day. hubspot-exclusion-example

Management is what makes native advertising worth it.  If you can create content people want to click, and then keep it in front of them, you’ll get great impressions and keep a high CTR.

Do you need some amplification advice? Want us to get your content in front of millions? It’s easy: Call us.

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