Navigating Native Advertising

Navigating Native Advertising

04 March 2024 |

Media and Advertising Industry

In a digital world where authenticity and user experience reign supreme, native advertising stands out as a beacon for marketers aiming to connect with their audience seamlessly and effectively. To shed light on this evolving landscape, we sat down with the experts from Taboola, who shared their insights into the power of native advertising and how it’s shaping the future of digital marketing strategies.

Join us as we explore this engaging Q&A session with Country Manager, Adam Payne, Sales Manager, Anand Arvind, and Director of Agency Development, Sebastian Graham.

ADMATIC: Hey team! Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us to take us through your world of Native Advertising.

TABOOLA: Of course! We want to start with an enormous thank you for the opportunity to talk about native! Native is such a powerful channel, and its ability to drive performance is becoming even more important this year as the end of the cookie arrives.

Understanding Native Advertising

ADMATIC: Let’s start from the ground up. Can you explain the fundamental principles of native advertising to us?

TABOOLA: The two words that matter for native advertising are form and function. Form meaning the native ad should look like the content that surrounds it, and function meaning the native ad should behave like the content that surrounds it.

You are already familiar with native ads, every marketing professional is. You just think about them as search or social ads. Search and social ads completely follow the laws of form and function – the ads look like and behave like the rest of the content on search and social media.

We here at Taboola focus on native ads on the open web, ensuring performance like advertisers get from search or social ads, but applied across a far more premium editorial environment in the open web.

ADMATIC: How does native advertising enhance the user experience compared to traditional methods?

TABOOLA: Looking at the user experience, most people don’t like the display ads they see on the open web. You can see this by how many people use ad blockers to ensure they don’t see them. Even among people who don’t use ad blockers, banner blindness means their eyes just skate over those ad banners like they aren’t there. It’s no wonder that display ads don’t get the results they used to.

Native ads, on the other hand, are integrated and relevant, appearing at moments when users are seeking more information. This means people are more likely to read and click on them than an annoying banner ad. Plus, they can choose whether or not to read, watch or listen to native ad content. They don’t interrupt but add value, aligning with the timing and context of the user’s experience.

When it comes to your advertising choices, the form and function of native beats display every time – with native search ads, with native social ads and also with Taboola’s native open web ads.

Adapting Digital Strategies

ADMATIC: As consumer preferences shift, how do businesses need to adjust their digital strategies?

TABOOLA: Almost every advertiser is already embracing native advertising, they just deliver it into search and social environments.

What’s exciting is the growing demand for native on the open web. This shift is driven by a desire for non-intrusive ads that perform well without annoying the audience.

We’ve seen more and more advertisers building digital strategies around all three types of native.
Integrating search, social and open web native together to build digital campaigns that drive performance while respecting the user experience. Most of these campaigns aren’t even using the display ad format, with native delivering the reach and results needed across the open web.

Marketing Goals and Native Advertising

ADMATIC: Can you explain how native advertising can be tailored to meet various marketing goals?

TABOOLA: There are many reasons to use native advertising, such as to drive awareness about certain content and messaging, increase website traffic, and generate leads and sales. Native ads can also be targeted to specific audience segments, so advertisers know they’re reaching consumers who are most likely to respond and engage with their campaigns.

In fact, that’s why Taboola exists — to help advertisers deliver personalised content across premium publisher websites and capture people’s attention right when they’re ready to discover something new.

Look at these examples to better understand the effectiveness of native advertising, or explore Taboola’s case studies.

Creatives and Content

ADMATIC: From your experience, what types of creative content tend to perform best in native advertising?

TABOOLA: Best practices vary by culture, language, and platform. At Taboola, we provide insights into current trends through Taboola Trends, helping advertisers track what works best. It’s about finding what resonates with your audience and adapting as trends evolve.

Taboola Trends is a data resource analysing images and keywords gathered from content campaigns running on the Taboola platform. The data is analysed on a weekly basis with the ability to filter by country, language, vertical and platform. The analysis includes individual items, or campaign creatives, that received at least 25 clicks and 25,000 impressions per week – altogether, every week we analyze a total of about 75 million clicks across 50 billion impressions.

We aspire to identify the early stages of behavioural trends, and although our insights are not a guarantee of future behaviour, it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to understand what’s trending right now.

You can see Taboola’s general best practices here. The nature of general best practices means they fall short once you get into detail in your campaigns. 

ADMATIC: Why is evergreen content becoming more crucial in native advertising strategies?

TABOOLA: Native ads, whether search, social or open web native, all contribute to your campaign performance in part through a higher volume of clicks than any other channel. Whether your campaign performance goals are awareness, content distribution, traffic, leads or sales, the content on your landing page is part of what makes the campaign performance so strong.

Evergreen content is a simpler way of saying content that is high performance and is optimised over time. Evergreen content is not just for branded content, as a marketer you should be applying the same principles to all your campaign objectives. Your campaigns will always perform better when your landing pages are high performing and continuously optimised. For awareness campaigns this might mean clear messaging and videos, for lead campaigns this might mean a strong call to action, a simple form and buttons that stand out.

Effective marketers need to deliver a lot of content. There is an eternal balancing act that marketers need to make, how much value do you get from timely and topical content against spending that time optimising evergreen content.

Brand Identity and Creative Content

ADMATIC: How do you ensure that creative content in native ads upholds brand identity?

TABOOLA: It’s about finding the right balance. Sometimes, including your logo isn’t feasible, but using distinctive brand assets can help maintain brand identity. For example, Native placements are designed to complement the look and functionality of the publisher’s website, leading to instances where incorporating your logo might not be the best option. It’s advisable to conduct tests with your logo to determine its effectiveness for your brand and audience.

The best brand identities come from distinctive brand assets that we all know, without necessarily being the logo. The world’s most famous examples are the Nike swoosh, the Cadbury purple, and the McDonald’s golden arches.

When you think about your brand identity, if you have built distinctive brand assets, you should absolutely use them in your native ad creative. The second best option is to deliver your brand name in the headline, if you can. When you have a complete campaign with above and below the line creatives, you should also align your native creative with the campaign overall.

Setting Up for Success

ADMATIC: Could you share some best practices for setting up a successful native advertising campaign?

TABOOLA: Use The Taboola pixel conversion tracking code. It’s very important to know how your campaign is performing compared to your goals.

You want to make sure that you have enough budget to start that will give you enough data to make informed decisions. By having enough data, you will be able to make better decisions on where you can improve campaign performance.

Make sure you set a CPC that allows you to meet your performance goals while getting the desired amount of traffic. If your CPC is too low, you may not get the amount of clicks to your campaign that you need. Or opt for an automated bidding strategy to optimize CPC and conversions towards a desired goal. We have a tool called Maximize Conversions that does this and more and more advertisers are getting on board with this!

Separate your campaigns by device. User experiences and behaviours will be different across devices, and users on a particular device may be more inclined to engage with your campaign.

Monitor and adjust your campaign targeting based on performance. We recommend starting with the most broad targeting for your campaign as possible.

ADMATIC: What are the main hurdles advertisers may encounter with their native campaigns, and how can these be navigated or avoided?

TABOOLA: The main hurdle that we see advertisers encountering is simply a misunderstanding of the role of open web native in a campaign. Most advertisers and marketers, when they think of native, think of the channel as simply for branded content distribution.

We get it, in native’s early days this is what the channel started as. But so much has changed and native can do so much more now. Here are a few of the key investments Taboola has made in order to develop the role that native ads can play:

  • Audience targeting enables native to drive performance for mid and upper funnel campaigns that need to deliver reach, consideration, engagement or preference for a brand.
  • Maximise Conversions, our automated bidding solution, is the most powerful post-click conversion algorithm we’ve built, enabling native to deliver conversion, sale and lead campaigns.
  • Video and Motion ads help to expand native beyond the humble image and copy ad format, taking advantage of the power of form and function in a native placement and driving a stronger response from the ad creative itself.

When you put this all together, open web native ads are now able to do everything that could be done by social or search ads: Sales; Leads; Engagement; Traffic or Awareness. Advertisers should overcome this misunderstanding hurdle by simply thinking of open web native ads in the same way they do social ads.

Measuring Success

ADMATIC: What KPIs should marketers focus on to gauge the success of their native campaigns?

Marketers should look at native campaign KPIs with a few key questions in mind. These first four questions help to identify KPIs that should be examined for every campaign:

  • Are my ads interesting and engaging: CTR, or video completion rate?
  • Is my media buy efficient: CPC or video CPCV?
  • Is my audience targeting sufficiently scaled for my budget: Total potential reach and impressions
  • Does my landing page appeal to my audience: time on site, bounce rate, pages per session?

Then the final set of KPIs should be aligned with your overall campaign goal. Are you looking for conversions or leads? CPA or CPL should be your primary KPI. Do you need awareness? Examine your reach and landing page engagement.

Each campaign will have its own KPI for campaign success, we encourage you to hold your native campaigns to the same KPI.

ADMATIC: With over 50% of global internet traffic coming from mobile apps, what best practices should marketers follow when integrating native advertising within apps to ensure it is both effective and non-intrusive?

TABOOLA: Fortunately Taboola has taken care of the integration of native ads into a publisher, whether mobile app or web. Taboola’s publisher teams covering the account management, professional services, engineering and product development have built and implemented all the capabilities so that Taboola’s native ads deliver in line with the form and function of the mobile apps we deliver ads into.
Native advertising and non-intrusive go hand in hand, the most effective thing to do is monitor key performance metrics such as vCTR and conversions rates.

When it comes to creatives and being non-intrusive we have products to accommodate all apps. This could be Video (Sound is user initiated), Motion Ads or Static images. All of which can have Headline, description and call to action button.

That means you can focus your time on delivering the most effective campaigns.

The Future of Native is?

ADMATIC: With AI and machine learning evolving, how do you see these technologies shaping native ads?

TABOOLA: Generative AI is taking the marketing world by storm, helping advertisers revolutionize ad processes and improve performance at scale. 

That’s why we’re excited to be part of leading this new world of Generative AI. We’ve launched Taboola Generative AI AdMaker, which enables advertisers to instantly make adjustments to existing creative assets directly within Taboola Ads, based on Taboola’s understanding of consumer intent. With it, advertisers can:

  • Produce creative copy, creating variations of campaigns titles and descriptions that appeal to multiple audiences
  • Generate original images, allowing for experimentation and building multiple creatives – to keep campaigns fresh and also maximize seasonal opportunities. 
  • Leverage best practices, with AI built on tens of thousands of successful campaigns that have delivered ROI for advertisers on Taboola.

One key use case for Taboola’s Generative AI AdMaker significantly improves advertisers’ ability to launch seasonal campaigns, allowing for automatic variations of existing campaign images with seasonal themes, such as those related to holidays, season, back to school, Halloween, and more.

ADMATIC: What new platforms or technologies will influence native advertising strategies?

TABOOLA: 2024 is a transformative year for native. We see three enormous changes coming to life this year which will change advertising strategies:

  • The Taboola & Yahoo partnership is a game changer for advertisers. Yahoo has historically had a very powerful native platform. Now the partnership with Taboola and Yahoo delivers the reach and delivery of Yahoo’s consumer brands into the Taboola technology.
  • eCommerce native is coming fast. We’re seeing major growth in the demand for effective ecommerce activity from advertisers. With Skimlinks and Connexity in the Taboola house, we’re well positioned with the data, toolsets and formats to bring native success to ecommerce advertisers.
  • The Cookieless world is one where Taboola has been operating since day 1, we’ve had to in order to service our publishers. Between performance based bidding strategies, first party data, contextual targeting, and cookieless campaign measurement, every advertiser can have an easier transition to a cookieless future.

ADMATIC: As consumer behaviours and digital landscapes evolve, what adjustments should marketers make to their native advertising strategies to remain ahead?

TABOOLA: The biggest change for most marketers this year is the full realisation of the cookieless world. Apple browsers & devices, along with other smaller browsers like Firefox, have been cookieless already, but this year Google moves and any marketer who has had their head in the sand now can’t avoid it. This year necessitates change to your native and digital advertising strategies.

You should get ahead with three easy moves:

  • Focus on first party and context targeting. The biggest change coming with cookieless is in how you target users. Borrowing data from someone else will no longer work. You will need to either use your first party data with the few media companies that can securely integrate with it, or use your media partners’ first party and context data for targeting. Fortunately, Taboola can help you with all options for your native campaigns.
  • Implement the Taboola pixel. To make your native campaigns perform you should always have the Taboola pixel implemented. In a cookieless world this is even more important. With the proper implementation of the Taboola pixel, we can record and optimise to your conversions even in a cookieless environment.
  • Evolve your measurement. Digital advertising has long relied on third party cookies to measure across channels, and it’s not going to be functional in the future. You should carefully examine where you capture and measure your digital campaigns, and prioritise a privacy-centric, post-click measurement platform.

A Closing Note

As we navigate the complexities of digital marketing, the insights from Taboola’s experts underscore the importance of embracing native advertising in our strategies. With a focus on form, function, and user experience, native advertising offers a pathway to engage audiences in a meaningful, non-intrusive manner. As we look to the future, staying adaptable and informed will be key to harnessing the full potential of native advertising in connecting with consumers.