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Native advertising is set to grow phenomenally in 2014. 

The New York Times among many others has now embraced native ad formats. This has led an even bigger clamour among media analysts to predict big things for native this year. 

J.P. Morgan stated last week in its ‘Nothing But Net’ report that “We believe native ads are quickly becoming the de facto ad format on mobile and increasingly moving into desktop”. 

There is still a lot of confusion among marketers and publishers about what native actually is.  Many people have tried to define it and enlighten us all on what native advertising is. 

Here's my definition:

Native adverts are contextually relevant posts that combine paid, owned and earned media into a clearly labelled branded message that is user initiated.

Native placements sit seamlessly into the overall design of the host site so that they look like part of the site, rather than any external interruption to it.

Native advertising growth

We are at the very beginning of what native advertising is and what it will evolve into. The opportunities for creativity are plentiful.

Native advertising, done well, combines all the best bits of the ad creative world, with the analysis and tracking so beloved of digital marketers and brands. It’s an ideal advertising unit for modern Psi-shaped digital marketers

How do you scale native advertising?

While many understand the basic concepts of Native advertising, few truly understand or have gotten fully to grips with the potential opportunity.

One of the major issues they foresee with native is scale. It is a common reservation among brands and businesses, but native advertising is scaleable. 

If we look at the definition of native from earlier, promoted posts should match the look and feel of the host website and be editorially relevant.

If you are running a large campaign across multiple websites, many brands assume that each placement will require a unique piece of content, written to an exacting house-style guide. This rings alarm bells, confusion and to many brands and agencies sounds like far too much effort.

It’s not helped often by individual publishers trying to charge advertisers extortionate rates for creating native content too. 

But the truth is that creating multiple unique pieces of content is not always necessary, providing that the content you are promoting is contextually relevant to the publisher and the consumers you are targeting.

Native is not for SEO, so there are no duplicate content issues you need to be wary of. Native advertising networks typically deliver content via javascript and ad pages that are not indexed by search engines. 

There is no prerequisite that editorial content on each and every host site needs to be unique. 

Create and distribute great content

You should,build out your native advertising content into specific groupings, eg. motoring sites, mummy sites, daddy sites, entertainment sites etc; but the truth is that the content on one female focussed website often works equally well on another female focused site in most instances, doesn’t it? 

You can then use all the data that native can provide - impressions, clicks to rate, dwell time, shares, earned media and CTRs to see which titles and content perform the best and create more of that type of content.  

Content creation for native advertising: a combination built to scale

There may be instances when, on particular niche websites, where you need to create bespoke content that fits in with the exact style and tone of a site.

In these instances using an experienced content creation service to create your native editorial content (preferably one that also runs a Native publisher network too), takes away many of the issues around scale for brands and their agencies when looking to go native.

This means that you have editorial support on hand to help optimise your campaign, as refreshing the content creative can significantly increase native performance.

For example, we always recommend that brands split test headlines to see what performs best over the course of a campaign. Plus if a piece of content is underperforming we replace it with new editorial. Everything is approved by the brand prior to publication too.

This means that brands are not only able to create relevant native content quickly – and at scale - but if any editorial changes are necessary during the course of a campaign, they can be tweaked for specific sites and publishers for optimum results. 

Native advertising can scale and it will scale. The truth is that it is far easier to scale native advertising than many a brand may think, and with performance typically up to 20 times better than banner advertising, the benefits to scaling are significantly worth it. 

This is an extract from How to Win at Native: Your Definitive Guide. Download it for free now.
Dale Lovell

Published 16 January, 2014 by Dale Lovell

Dale Lovell is Content & Publishing Director at Adyoulike.com and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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