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Native Advertising Best Practices

Nick Price
December 3, 2015 3 MIN Blog

This article originally appeared on iMedia Connections

There are several significant trends occurring in digital marketing: programmatic advertising, the threat of ad blocking, and the rise of native advertising. When you combine these issues with the mobile revolution, and the necessity of reaching customers wherever and whenever, you’ve got a tsunami of change.
We believe that the rising trend of ad blocking is partly due to programmatic practices. Publishers, seeing an inventory bonanza, cram their sites with ads, annoying viewers who switch on the blockers.
Enter native. A possible marketing holy grail, native ads offer useful information that speaks to the viewer’s professional needs. When done well it provides solutions that help decision makers be more successful in their own jobs.
But here’s the thing: Native advertising, despite all its promise, can potentially suffer from poor targeting. What’s more, even well-targeted messaging can go stale when prospects move further into the buying funnel.
Let’s look at these issues, and how they can be turned to the B2B marketer’s advantage.

Finding the right individual

It’s essential to identify prospects who have expressed an interest in the topics surrounding a company’s products. Even the best content will resonate only with those actively seeking answers to their questions.
It’s a mistake to believe B2B marketing should not be about creating demand. It should instead be about:

  1. Finding where the demand already is, then…
  2. Supplying the messaging to nudge interest along.

With this kind of focus, the B2B marketer can serve the right native ad asset to the right individual, at the right time.

Creating the right assets

Because a native ad looks just like editorial content, it must echo the best qualities of editorial — that is, be neutral, interesting, and above all, helpful. But it has to do more. Because a native ad is a paid placement to further marketing goals, marketers must create content that appeals to an individual viewer in a specific vertical, and to what that individual actually is interested in.
Technology and better uses of data, such as intent and predictive analytics, can get you there. These new technologies allow marketers to better understand the marketplace so that they can create native ad content that’s tailored specifically for their audience, rather than giving them yesterday’s news.
Technology can’t do it all, of course. The marketing team must also leverage professional expertise, offering insight into specific job descriptions, verticals, markets, and even foreign countries.

Executing on the plan

Powerful native ads, informed by data-driven targeting can be the B2B marketer’s best friend. But nothing is static, and that’s particularly so with prospects. What you need is continuous optimization, to refine a native campaign based on individual responses and buying inclinations.
Whatever platform you use must be able to assess how and where an individual is moving in the decision-making process. From brand awareness all the way through to the placement of an order, the prospect’s need for pertinent information is always changing.
Understanding what topics are surging and to be able to shift messaging on the fly is crucial. And don’t forget device type. “Lean-forward” type research on a desktop computer may require a different sort of content than what is served on a mobile device.
So there you have it. Native advertising can be the ideal B2B marketing outreach — informative, useful, and compelling. Just be sure to know who you’re targeting, with what message, and with agility.
Tom O’Regan is CEO of Madison Logic.
On Twitter? Follow O’Regan at @Tom_ORegan and iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
Image via Travis Wise