Beyond Creative – 3 Considerations to be Successful with Programmatic Native Advertising

Native Advertising

Often times, I’m asked to share programmatic native advertising best practices. However, what I’ve noticed is the advice they’re really looking for is on ad unit creative – images, headlines, copy, etc. Creative is very important and should never be overlooked. If that’s the only concern, though, then the advertiser is primarily worried about native ad unit click optimization. They may not fully understand the symbiotic relationship between the native ad unit and the content on the other side.

As a result, some fundamental principles necessary to get the most out of programmatic native advertising might be ignored. The ad creative can be amazing, but if the content post-click doesn’t follow certain fundamental principles the user clicking on the unit will likely bounce – wasting whatever the cost of that click was.

It’s important to get both the content principles and the ad unit creative right in order to optimize the campaign. I’m not just talking about optimizing toward awareness, affinity, consideration, or conversion KPIs. It’s long been known that dwell time on a webpage post-click from the referral source has a strong correlation with the propensity for that user to return.


In fact, according to Chartbeat Analytics, those users who consume content for three minutes are twice as likely to return versus users who consume content for one. That means, dwell time engagement metrics, if optimized, have the potential to expand the value of the original budget – getting even more out of it than anticipated. At three minutes of dwell time a user is 54% more likely to return to the page the following week. Wouldn’t it be nice to consistently drive more than one visit from one paid click?

That’s why following these three principles on post-click content creation and execution is so important. Perhaps even more important than the native ad unit creative itself.

  1. Authenticity – Online consumers are smarter than what we give them credit for. They can smell inauthenticity a mile away from brands. Transparency is the best way to show consumers authenticity online. Web pages with direct response goals disguised as helpful articles will likely lead to a bounce once the users realize it. Lacking authenticity in content post-click is the fastest way for a brand or publisher to lose users’ trust.
  2. Utility – People only go to the web for two reasons – to solve a problem or to be entertained, quickly. Businesses are in the business of solving problems. That’s what they do and why they exist. This is what fundamentally defines them and makes them unique versus households and governments in the macroeconomic sense. Therefore, a brand’s content post-click should reflect this fundamental truth. It should share expertise and provide utility to the user.
  3. Relevancy – There should be a line of relevancy that runs through the ad unit, post-click content, website, and the brand’s identity itself. If any of these are off, best case scenario, the advertiser will spend more budget on bounced clicks than necessary. Worst case scenario, the brand’s reputation will be impacted. Neither of which needs to happen if the relevancy principle is adhered to.

Once these fundamental principles are fully recognized and accepted content creation and native ad unit creative can begin. Forgetting (or ignoring) these fundamental principles gave rise to the click-bait ad unit leading to the flimsy impression-bait flip-through content that no one liked. The good news is that style of online tomfoolery and trickery isn’t as pervasive as it once was. As more marketers embrace authenticity, utility and relevance in their post-click content we’ll see less of the bad stuff and much more of the good stuff.

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