Native ads can help advertisers reach audiences across all stages of the marketing funnel. Since these ads match their surrounding content and contexts, they fit seamlessly into the user experience and are proven to increase engagement. And by launching those ads programmatically, brands can deliver those experiences to targeted customers at scale across the web.

So, when building their native ad campaigns, we encourage advertisers to focus on one of these key stages of the funnel:

  • Branding. Gain a wide reach and low CPMs on quality sites.
  • Consideration. Promote blogs or long-form content to educate people about your brand.
  • Acquisition. Use bidding strategies to optimize toward efficient CPAs.

Once you define your goal, you can focus on the other most important elements of your native programmatic campaign:

  • Creative
  • Audience targeting
  • Optimization

Here are our best practices for each of these areas, so you can build the most successful, engaging native ads possible:

Creative Best Practices

Creative is integral to programmatic advertising. No amount of nuanced audience targeting, optimization, or testing will make bad creative better. That’s why it’s so important for creative to reflect your brand and be high-impact, engaging, compelling, and tailored to your audiences.

Advertisers can use these best practices to make it happen:

Consider How Your Creative Elements Work Together

Native ads are unique in that their elements can be combined in different ways every time they appear, and you have no control over that. Sometimes your description line will be cut, or your logo might not be shown. Ask yourself: Are the ads still engaging even when the minimum number of elements are shown? You can use the Taboola Native Ads preview tool to help.

Set Up a Testing Plan

Programmatic advertising offers many chances to test different creatives against each other. We recommend running 5-8 creatives variations at all times, though a few more couldn’t hurt. For example, you might test:

  • Image background colors
  • Text or no text in thumbnails
  • Different ad copy

Your DSP of choice will allow you to optimize these creatives for different audiences so you can constantly improve your ad performance. Taboola Trends also provides real-time data about which creative ad elements drive the most clicks, and features a useful headline analyzer for testing different title variants.

Build Relevant Landing Pages

Once people click on your ad, it’s important that the landing page they’re taken to is obviously related to the creative they’ve just seen and engaged with. If your ad CTA says “Learn More,” for instance, your landing page should clearly provide that additional information that audiences are seeking. Otherwise, you risk confusing and frustrating your potential customers.

You might have already spent time honing these landing pages for similar campaigns on YouTube or other social platforms. To get started quickly, you can repurpose assets from those channels for your native ad landing pages.

Audience Targeting Best Practices

As a programmatic channel, native advertising offers many targeting options for reaching the right audiences. Just keep these best practices in mind:

  • Make the most of your first-party data. As third-party cookies are set to meet their demise in 2022 or 2023, audience targeting as advertisers know it is going to become less precise. Start gathering first-party insights from audiences on owned channels that you can then use for retargeting in future campaigns.
  • Build Lookalike Audiences. You can also use your own CRM data to build audience segments of people who behave like your most loyal customers, increasing your chances of driving engagement and revenue.
  • Try Contextual Targeting. Show native ads next to the content your audiences are already reading. Contextual Targeting uses machine learning to scan websites and analyze audience behavior in real time so you can always reach the most interested readers.
  • Use third-party targeting to fill in the gaps. You can still use third-party audience targeting to augment your first-party data and reach customers based on specific demographics and characteristics.

To reduce loss in scale due to cookie data mismatches, we recommend advertisers to keep targeting to a minimum (either apply contextual and audience targeting, brand safety targeting, exclude keywords, apply inclusion or exclusion lists on Taboola’s end, or apply on DSP, not on both).

Optimization Best Practices

Native ad optimization can be overwhelming because there are so many ad elements, metrics, and strategies to monitor and adjust. To help keep it simple, we recommend focusing on these two questions:

  • Which metric are you trying to improve? Is it impressions, clicks, leads, purchases, or something else entirely? You don’t want to optimize for cost-per-acquisition (CPA) if your goal is to increase reach, for example.
  • Which changes will have the most impact? Will it be tweaking your images, A/B testing headline copy, refining audience targeting, or sharpening those landing pages?

We also suggest using the cadence of optimizations below, so you can schedule time to work on each element of your native programmatic ad campaigns:

  • Daily
    • Pacing
    • Budgets
  • Weekly
    • Bids
    • Sites, devices, environments
    • Creative
  • Monthly
    • Audience targeting
    • Categories & keywords
    • Everything else

Native Programmatic Ads in Action

Now let’s look at real-world examples of how advertisers used these best practices to drive success with native advertising on the open web.

Branding & Consideration: Banco Sabadell

Banco Sabadell, one of Spain’s largest banking groups, wanted to reach more customers who were likely to be interested in their mortgage product and drive high-quality traffic to their website.

The company worked with Taboola to launch programmatic native ads on news, entertainment, weather, and niche websites where their target audiences were already active. Specifically, they used DV360 to bid on native ad placements in real time and consolidate media buys across channels. They also used their CRM data to suppress current customers and ensure they were only reaching new prospects.

As a result, Banco Sabadell’s campaign drove a 30% higher clickthrough rate (CTR) than other channels and increased conversions by 17% in just two months.

Acquisition: Major US Mobile Carrier

A major US mobile carrier was eager to educate consumers about its new coverage offerings and drive clicks to its website. The company launched Taboola’s native in-feed and homepage ad placements to reach readers at they were looking for new content to consume.

The result? The campaign outperformed those of other native display formats and achieved a 100% viewability rate.

Ready to launch your own programmatic native ad campaigns? As the world’s largest content discovery platform, Taboola can help.

Originally Published:

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