Let’s say that you are scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed.  Which encounter would you rather have:

  1. A loud, disruptive advertisement that pushes a product or service.
  2. A relevant and targeted Facebook post that provides you with value.

For most people, choosing option B is a no-brainer.  It’s no surprise then that native advertising has become so popular with digital marketers and now makes up more than half of digital display spend.

Native ads are effective because they take on the look and feel of the website.  In other words, they don’t disrupt the user experience. 

But if you plan to incorporate native advertising into your content marketing strategy, there are a few best practices that you should know if you want your ads to be successful:

Plan Your Native Advertising Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes that advertisers make with native advertising is that they don’t have a strategy.  Before you begin creating native content, you need to think about your goals and which types of platforms and content will achieve these goals.

For example, native advertising is great for customer acquisition because it doesn’t force a brand on unsuspecting consumers.  If acquiring new customers is your goal, you might consider advertising on Facebook with a native video advertisement that introduces your brand to new audiences.

Know Your Audience

The key to any successful native advertising campaign is knowing your audience.  Without a deep understanding of who your audience is, you will be flying blind when it comes to creating engaging content.

What does your target audience like or dislike?  What are their biggest problems and fears?  By digging deeper into the minds of your potential readers, you can develop native content that will add to their experience rather than disrupt it.

If uncovering this valuable insight is too much of a chore, you can allow us to use our advanced targeting capabilities to reveal the attitudinal behaviors and preferences of your target audience.  With more of the right people reading the right content at the right time, you can rest easy knowing that your content marketing efforts are paying off. 

Tell a Unique and Captivating Story

Contrary to popular belief, consumers aren’t annoyed by branded content if it’s relevant to them.  If the story is captivating, they’re willing to listen.

In fact, a recent study found that two in three consumers trust branded content more than traditional advertising.  This same study found that GenerationZ is particularly open to advertisers engaging with them through branded content, with 93 percent stating that they would like to see brands reach them in a creative and unique way.

But remember, this only works if your content is compelling and provides value to them.  Avoid blatantly interjecting your brand into native content and focus on telling a good story instead.

Avoid Click-Bait Headlines

Native advertising is a fine balancing act for advertisers.  On one hand, they desperately want readers to click on their content.  On the other hand, they need to resist the urge to get these clicks with “clickbait” headlines.

There are two big problems with clickbait headlines.  First, your headline might not meet your publisher’s standards.  Secondly, click-bait headlines are annoying to readers.  Sure, they may get you clicks.  But this isn’t the point of native advertising.

Make your headlines authentic.  Readers appreciate the honesty and it will be far easier to earn their trust when you aren’t trying to trick them into clicking on your content.

Expand the Reach of Your Campaigns with Retargeting

If you run an eCommerce store, you should consider retargeting your customers through your native advertisements.  Why is this important, you may ask?

Consider this:  the average abandoned shopping cart rate is nearly 70 percent?  Ouch!

By implementing a retargeting strategy into your native ad campaigns, you can recapture lost sales and drive more revenue for your business.

To give you a better idea of how this works, let’s say that you are using Facebook sponsored ads (a common form of native advertising).  You can download the Facebook pixel that will “follow” your visitors back to Facebook and subtly remind them of your business with a sponsored advertisement.  Gently reminding the consumer about your products can do wonders for your sales.

Mind the Rules

Every publisher has their own editorial standards and guidelines that advertisers must follow.  In addition to these site-specific rules, there are guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission that you should also know.

Unfortunately, a study found that nearly 40 percent of publishers do not comply with these guidelines.  Many publishers do not label their content as sponsored, which can be deceiving to the reader and turn them off from your brand.

For better ad campaign results, partner with publishers who are compliant with FTC guidelines.  This will go a long way in earning your target audience’s trust and building a stronger relationship with them.

Test Your Ad Campaigns

Hey, you said that you wanted top performing native ad content, didn’t you?  Well, testing your ad campaigns is your recipe for advertising success.

Like any piece of content that you produce, you should split test your headlines, be careful with your tone of voice, select the right type of content, and use high-quality images to engage your readers.  With native ads, you will want to choose the best ad format as well.

This is the difficult part for many native advertisers.  Which ad format is best for your organization’s goals?

For building brand awareness, native video ads can be especially powerful.  Just avoid irritating the user with auto-play.  Native recommendation ads are also beneficial for building positive brand awareness.

Native ads also come in the form of in-feed units, paid search units, recommendation modules and widgets, and promoted listings.  Most marketers have a rather broad definition of native advertising, which can muddle the lines between what formats are considered “native.”

Either way, the ad format that works for one organization may not work for another.  Experiment with different formats to discover which ones give you the best results.


If you’re new to native advertising, that may have seemed like a lot to take in.  But native ads aren’t difficult—especially for content marketers who know the value of effective content.

Even though native ads have been around for years, they have only recently begun to take off.  There is still time for you to get the hang of things and optimize your ad campaigns.

Have you already dabbled in native advertising?  What was your experience?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!