4 tips for selling native advertising

Jadon Andersen, Director of Sales, DDM | @JadonJadon04 | February 2, 2015

By now you’ve heard enough about native advertising that you’re likely pursuing a strategy, or at least you know it’s worth considering. Native makes sense for so many reasons, not the least of which is its advantage as a mobile advertising solution. But saying "yes" to native and actually doing it are two different things. As a digital seller at Deseret Digital Media, I’ve found it’s helpful to walk advertisers through four key points when selling native.

1. Sponsored content, not pitchy content. Native advertising may be unlike any advertising your client has done before. They are probably used to running ads that directly promote their business or a specific product or service. Native, on the other hand, is not a direct-response campaign or a product pitch.

Native articles are relevant to your advertiser’s brand and especially relevant to their targeted audience, but are not specifically about their brand or products.

You’ll need to explain to your advertiser that it’s the content that keeps the reader engaged. It is not the offer. If they can provide the reader something of value, it will increase their brand perception and establish them as thought leaders.

2. Increased visibility and engagement. Engagement time is one of the biggest factors that advertisers need to consider when deciding on any advertising strategy. We like to explain to our advertisers that when compared with traditional forms of advertising, native performs exceptionally well.

For example, the average time a would-be consumer spends engaging with an outdoor billboard on any highway is around 3-5 seconds, depending on how fast he or she is driving. The average engagement time on a TV ad varies from 7-30 seconds. Even online display ads fall short of native’s potential with some display ad engagement rates of fewer than 10 seconds, depending on what the user is doing. Native advertising, when done properly, sees upwards of 2 minutes of engagement from potential customers. This does wonders for an advertiser’s brand lift.

According to a study of 4,770 participants by Sharethrough and IPG Media Lab, consumers looked at native ads 52 percent more frequently than traditional banner ads. Native ads also registered 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads.

3. Target and display. Display advertising still serves a purpose within the scope of native. In fact, combining valuable native articles with direct-response banner ads creates a synergy your advertisers will love.

We like to bundle display campaigns around our native ads. In the image on the left, notice the banner ads highlighted in green, surrounding the article, and sponsorship disclosure highlighted in red.

Your advertisers’ calls to action can be handled as they traditionally have — as display ads, widgets or other elements surrounding the content, but not in the content itself. This allows the reader to digest the information without it feeling too pitchy.

With this strategy, our advertisers see anywhere from 3x-10x greater CTRs on their display advertising surrounding native articles compared to run-of-site ads.

With a quality native campaign in place, your advertiser can also take advantage of first-party data. By placing a retargeting pixel on the reader’s IP address, your advertiser can serve that reader follow-up messaging with unique offers related to the native advertising content you provided.

4. Social buzz. The best form of advertising is word of mouth. When customers are evangelizing your advertiser’s product or service, the close ratio goes up dramatically. We have found the same thing happens with native advertising.

If articles on your website have social sharing bars, readers have the ability to share your content (including native advertising). Because the content itself is valuable and not a direct sales pitch, users are willing to share native on their social networks.

On DDM sites, an advertiser can expect to see anywhere from 100-200 shares on any given native article. The content (and related sponsorship) is now much more relevant and accepted because it’s been shared by a trusted source — the friend, family member or contact who shared the article.

Native advertising has provided my fellow sellers and me a great product that can meet our clients’ needs, our audience’s needs and, thereby, strengthen our own brand. In the 18-24 months we’ve been selling native, our business is pacing at $1M-plus annually.

With a little effort to educate your advertisers on the points above, I think you’ll find success in your own native advertising sales efforts.