2019 was a big year for native advertising. According to eMarketer, the year will cap out with $44 million of advertisers’ dollars spent on native advertising, making it the fastest-growing advertising segment. 

With this rise in native advertising’s popularity, it’s crucial to learn not only how to do it, but how to do it right. The trends and best practices that work best for traditional forms of advertising don’t always apply when it comes to native advertising, so mastering these specific guidelines is key.

To help you learn how you can get the most out of your native advertising campaigns, we spoke to nine paid media experts to bring you their pro tips, and took a deep dive into our native advertising trends from trends.taboola.com.

How to Create Genuine Native Content

1. The Proof is in the Planning

Daniel Gilbert  
CEO, Brainlabs

Daniel Gilbert“Three tips I think every native advertising campaign manager can benefit from include…

1. Don’t underestimate the benefit of doing comprehensive research using a range of first and third party data to understand your audience and your market challenges.

2. It’s important to set targets that really tie your marketing goals to your business objectives, supported by a robust measurement method to track performance and keep optimizing. Make sure you include a series of experiments throughout your plan, in order to have data to fuel your next campaign’s research.

3. Ideally, budgets should be flexible across audiences, channels, and phasing, allowing for weekly updates to budgets splits. You might have certain assumptions before going into a new campaign, but as performance data trickles in over time you will likely need to reallocate budgets to the best-performing areas.”

2. Content is King

Amy Bishop
Owner, Cultivate Marketing

Amy Bishop“Content is king when it comes to native advertising! 

It’s important to know your market to help determine how best to target them, but also to ensure that the creative and the CTA are appealing. Plan out your content strategy in advance, and be sure to create ads that are eye-catching to grab the attention of your target audience! 

The combination of all of these elements are the key to a great campaign.”

3. Ladder up to Objectives

Mike Rhodes
Founder & CEO, WebSavvy.com.au

Mike Rhodes“A lot of businesses get referred to our digital acquisition agency and on the first call will say a version of ‘currently, I get leads and sales for $50, but I need that to be less’. My response is typically ‘how do you know that’s the right target?’ 

The name of the game isn’t to get the cheapest leads (or highest ROAS for every sale), but to choose the right profit target based on your business objectives.

For some, that’s growing fast at breakeven. For others, that maximising the profit on the first sale because there’s little or no opportunity to sell anything to that customer again.

You must first know the objective, then pick a profit level, and then back that into a target CPA or ROAS for your ad campaigns.”

4. Know Your Audience

Pontus Staunstrup
Account Director, Brand Movers

Pontus Staunstrup“If you want to be successful in native advertising, never forget that there are three parties involved, and you have to create value for all of them. 

There’s the brand paying for the ad, the publisher providing the platform, the audience engaging with it. 

The goals of the first two⁠—recognition and remuneration—are often looked after, but if you don’t provide value for the audience, too, you will undermine the whole foundation of native advertising.” 

5. Target Wisely

Jonathan A. Kagan
VP of Search & Biddable Media, Cogniscient Media

Jonathan A. Kagan“Remember: not everyone needs to see your ad. Rather than focusing on just ad placements, emphasize the audience themselves. 

Create a demographic and behavioral profile that aligns with the ideal consumer, and only target ads to them. It’ll save on cost and efficiency.”




6. Always Be Optimizing 

Elad Levy
Head of Growth, Fixel

Elad Levy“When launching a content campaign, it can take a little time to see conversions. Trying to optimize the campaign without sufficient conversion data is inefficient, so I recommend optimizing for web engagement first, and then switching over to lead generation.

Another option is to add an implicit user engagement signal, such as viewing the pricing page, as a conversion, without including it in total conversions.” 


7. Not all Clicks are Created Equal

Gustaf Stenlund
VP of Growth, Nudge.com

Gustaf Stenlund“As a principle, marketers agree that not all clicks are created equal. The irony in this is that the cheapest clicks tend to quickly descend into wasted budget. Instead, adjust your native ads against the quality of those clicks and you’ll see a clear spike in performance.

So, how do you fix this? Analytics––they act as the weighing tool for your promotional spend. Imagine all your clicks being put on a scale. What would they weigh? Find out where you’re getting your best clicks from and optimize against those variables.

For example, a B2B client of ours realized that at 5am, their audience was spending 25% longer on their content, up until 10am. Knowing this, our client was able to redistribute their budget to 5-10am. They loved this, and realized that it made sense––their key clients were getting the real work done before a day of meetings.”

8. Creativity Wins

Mark Simon
Co-Founder, Brax.io

Mark Simon“My mantra for 2019 is: Creativity is a competitive advantage. We all have the same form fields, check boxes, and targeting options when setting up campaigns. So how do you win? Make your images stand out with a simple tweak that pumps up the saturation and lowers the brightness.

This works because the photo colors are deeper and more vivid, so they serve as a pattern interrupt. Typically, there are three adjustments to play with that make stock photos stand out: saturation, brightness, and tint. Canva makes this really easy, or your preferred image editor will do the trick.”

9. Get to the Good Stuff

Kevin Lee
Exec. Chairman, Didit

Kevin Lee“On a crowded page, getting a click is key, so experiment with headlines and images that are evergreen. Then, when you find a winner, you can run the ad for a while before experiencing burnout.

It’s also important to think like an editor. Headlines and copy should be written in the classic inverted pyramid style. Start off with the good stuff.

And lastly, try to get as close as possible to understanding your unit economics and marketplace elasticities. That means knowing how much each channel delivers in profitability per click and lead, and also understanding the level to which you can increase budgets while retaining that profit level.”

Native advertising trends

If your ads are going to stand out, you need knockout creatives based on data-driven insights. More importantly, you need a heads-up on changing best practices. One of the best parts of working with native advertising platforms is having a team to stay on top of those changes.  

At Taboola, we gather meaningful insights and native advertising statistics from a vast range of campaigns. And now, with trends.taboola.com, you have direct access to these data points as they change.

To see what’s next for marketers, we analyzed millions of ads to discover the latest trends in native advertising. From black and white images to six-second video illustrations, here’s what has been shaping and influencing native ads in 2019, and will continue to in 2020.

1. Photography over Illustration

It’s worth noting that showing a real image boosts CTR 19%. For companies looking to reach new audiences, representing their product or service with a photo can have a tangible impact. CTR boost up by real image 

2. Don’t be Afraid to Try Black & White

It may seem counterintuitive, but black & white images can actually stand out in a sea of colors. In fact, we see CTR increases by up to 46% with these images, indicating a real opportunity.

Black & white image increases CTR

3. Take it Outside

Contemplating whether to shoot photos outside or inside? Having an outdoor background increases CTR by 12%, so it may be worth heading to the great outdoors.shooting photos outside increases CTR

  1. Eating in videos: For a video ranging from 6-15 seconds in length, showing eating can drive a 258% increase in viewability and a 75% increase in completion rate, so feel free to break out the snacks.Eating in videos increases viewability rateEating in videos increases completion rate
  2. Physical activity in slightly longer videos: For the 15-30 second videos, physical activity is the key action to show, with 34% higher viewability at 15 seconds and 85% higher completion rate at 30 seconds. stretching in videos increases viewability rate

    stretching in videos increases completion rate4. Food in Short Videos

    For short, 6-second videos, including food can be a real asset. Incorporating food in 6-second ads can improve viewability by 102%.
    Food in Short Videos increases viewability rate

  3. Food for thought: Using the phrase “Food that Naturally…” in headlines boosts CTRs by 85%. The desire for more whole, natural food is a growing trend within the food, health, and wellness industries, and food brands and dietitians alike can make that part of their messaging.“Food that Naturally” phrase in headlines boosts CTRs
  4. Tell them what’s best: Using the phrase “Ranking the Greatest…” in headlines shows a 61% lift in CTR. This specifically works for sports media companies, who can engage their readers by ranking the best athletes in a particular sport, games in a specific season, and more.“Ranking the Greates” phrase in headlines boosts CTRs
  5. Pique curiosity: The phrase “Try Not To” is a classic CTR-booster, and we see it having an impact of up to 111%, securing its future spot as a mainstay in the digital space.“Try Not To” phrase in headlines boosts CTRs

And There You Go…

The more specific you get with the creatives of your ads, the more critical insights become. While we may recommend black and white images in some instances, they just fail to make an impact in others.

To get up to speed with native advertising trends, we invite you to check out Taboola Trends, now accessible to the public. Every week we analyze around 75 million clicks across campaign creatives, so marketers and brands on our network always remain up-to-date with the latest happenings from around the native advertising world.


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