Heading into the new year, online merchants looking to increase their visibility may well consider native advertising, which is growing at an exponential pace. In 2018, more than half of all digital ad spending by US marketers was geared toward native ad units, highlighting a trend that's set to grow even further in 2019.
For those unfamiliar, native advertising allows you to drive more targeted traffic to your store with ads that match the look and feel of the content present on a particular website.
Depending on the platform, the ads can take any shape and form, including videos and product images in social media feeds. But in most instances, native advertising is content-focused and seamlessly fits into its surrounding environment, engaging visitors rather than disrupting their browsing experience.
Here's an example:
The ad's blended into the environment of Business Insider's website, with its content subtly focused on the product (a mini drone) that the advertiser wanted to promote.
Native advertising is particularly effective in this day and age where ads are getting more irritating, intrusive, and more ineffective than ever before.
How does native advertising fit into your e-commerce marketing toolkit?
Native ads are typically distributed across three distribution channels:
1) Search: The ads you sometimes see at the very top of search engine results
2) Social: The ads that show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds, for example.
3) Open Web: The ads you see on publishers' websites (like in the Business Insider example)
You're probably already using social and search advertising as the core to your ecommerce marketing strategy – Instagram and Google are well-known channels for merchants looking to market their products and brand.
You might be losing ground to competitors who're also running native ads on the open web, and let's not forget that scaling reach and finding new audiences via search and social is often a budget buster and social media noise is a frustrating reality for businesses.
Unlike social media and search engines, the open web places no limits on growth, providing merchants with an opportunity to target every internet user out there.
It ensures your ads are shown in the right places, at the right time, targeting the right people when they're intent on discovering something new.
It's no surprise to hear that native ads are viewed 53 percent more frequently than standard display ads and they tend to register higher brand affinity (9 percent) and purchase intent (18 percent) than banner ad units.
By sponsoring content on top publisher websites (think ESPN, Bloomberg, HuffPost, etc.), e-commerce store owners can spread awareness about their offerings across the open web, build affinity by targeting people familiar with their brand, drive conversions back on their online stores, an ultimately make a sale.
How do you run a great advertising campaign?
Fitting a new strategy into your current e-commerce marketing setup can be overwhelming, but the good news is that you can create and run a great native advertising campaign regardless of the size of your store, by:
1) Setting a clear goal
The goal of your native advertising campaign will depend on what stage your business is in.
For example, if you've just opened a PrestaShop store, the ideal goal would be to create brand awareness. In this case, it'd be best to set up native ads using themes that have broad appeal while ensuring they're related to some of your product categories.
A kids' clothing store, for instance, could create an ad on “how to get your kids' wardrobe ready for the winter" or a similar theme.
Here's a few other headline examples if your goal is to expose your products and services to people who're yet to discover them.
- Five easy low-calorie recipes for the upcoming year
- See what happens when this customer puts her clothes in this washing machine
- Four photography tips to make your backgrounds look sharp
If you've already created some brand awareness for your offerings, your goal could be to drive consideration in a webpage that collects people's emails.
It'd then make sense to run ads purpose-build to highlight your item's value proposition, such as:
- Take this self-quiz to find out if a two-seater is right for you
- Eight reasons you should be buying your groceries online
- How to find C-level positions without actually trying
PrestaShop store owners who've already built consideration for their products can run ads that trigger impulse purchases. The goal would be to encourage people to make a buying decision.
In this case, the ad's content must directly relate to your items. Below are a few headline examples to replicate:
- Eight gifts your daughter will love
- See why so many homeowners are happy with this lawn mower
- Four home care essentials every senior needs
2) Picking the content that best supports your goal
After defining your goal, think about what type of content is most likely to persuade your prospects to click that “buy now" button.
Native advertising can drive users to any piece of content across your store, including blogs, personalized landing pages, about us, and more. Not all content types are suitable for every native advertising campaign.
For example, a piece of about us or blog content would be ideal for a brand awareness campaign, but not a conversion focused one – we suggest experimenting with different pieces to see what works best for your goal.
3) Choosing the right native advertising platform
For running native ad campaigns on the open web, Taboola and other similar platforms Contently 4 can give you access to hundreds of top publishers.
You'll just need to provide basic account information, upload content pieces, and apply some filters for your audience (like device or country).
Once that's done, the platform should allow you to upload multiple versions of the content you want to sponsor, with alternating thumbnails and titles that'll show up on selected publishers' websites.
Both of these creatives will lead the first impression for your promoted content, enticing visitors to click and learn more about your items or brand.
4) Allocating your spend
Your goal CPC (cost per click) should allow you to set your initial campaign budget. If you've never run a native advertising campaign before, try being generous with the spend, rather than driving the CPC near the lowest possible amount.
Allocating a higher CPC to your native ad campaign will allow it to cast a wider net in the initial stages and therefore identify well-performing audience segments that'd help you enjoy a higher ROI down the road.
Native advertising best practices
Not every native advertising campaign becomes a runaway success, but if set up strategically, it should be able to offer some success that can be applied to similar campaigns in the future.
Check out the best practices below, and allow yourself to take your e-commerce advertising to the next level.
- Test multiple creatives; Try various images and title variations for each URL, to see what creative suits your campaign best. Begin with at least five titles and a couple of images, though you can always come back to make further changes any time.
- Use clean images: Avoid branded logos, ClipArt, and photos with layers of text. These often end up being off-center and cluttering the creative's canvas. Instead, use clean imagery that has a single focus. Humans are always preferable – best if they're at half-length zoom from the shoulder up, or even a bit closer.
- Craft eye-catching titles: The title of a native ad can be a powerful targeting tool. Call out your items or your prospects where possible. Also, use eyecatching main points or numbered lists to front-load titles. It may take a few rounds of testing to pin down what headings work best for your campaign.
- Split by platform: Where possible, split your creatives, titles, images, etc. by platform where possible. We advice doing this because people's behavior on mobile and desktop is very different. Doing so would help maximize your campaign's potential, allowing you to set platform-based user expectations from the initial click.
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With Taboola, implementing these best practices is a breeze. Our platform enables ecommerce companies to promote their brands to internet users across the web at the precise moment when they've entered the 'content discovery' mode.
Maximize the ROI of every ad you run by using Taboola's intuitive retargeting features and enjoy high engagement rates with creatives that make people stick around postclick.
Know more about how Taboola can help grow your e-commerce brand by visiting its page on PrestaShop's official addons marketplace.