Eight best practices for your native advertising strategy

Here are eight refined tips to make sure that you're getting the most out of your native advertising strategy and enjoying the highest levels of consumer engagement.

Here are eight refined tips to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your native advertising strategy and enjoying the highest levels of consumer engagement. 

According to the Association of National Advertisers, 63 percent of advertisers were planning to increase their native advertising budgets in 2015, bumping up spending to $10.7 billion. That’s an impressive uptick of 150 percent from spend in 2013. Additionally, 72 percent of publishers are currently offering native ads, or planning to within the next several years.

This impressive growth is for good reason – the native ad format performs for advertisers. Native ads result in four times the lift over traditional display ads for branded search activity and six times the lift for generic search activity. The reason this format performs so well for advertisers is because it engages consumers.

In a cross-channel and cross-device world, native formats have the ability to complement any context, whether consumers are on their smartphones or desktop Web browsers. That flexibility pays off; our research has found that over 60 percent of consumers have “positive impressions” of native advertising.

This is due to three key reasons:

  1. Consumers say native ads introduce them to new products.
  2. Native ads provide information that consumers wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
  3. These types of ads also fit naturally within the online experience.


To help marketers effectively use native advertising to its fullest potential, we set out to understand and define the creative best practices associated with this format. We held an in-lab survey of over 800 internet and smartphone users, and used eye-tracking to determine fixations, or momentary pauses of the eye within an area of interest happening long enough for cognitive processing to take place. This extensive research helped us develop eight best practices marketers should follow when incorporating this powerful format into their advertising strategy.

1. Images featuring people

People-based images deliver fixation on PC, and deep engagement and lower-funnel metrics on mobile. Images with people lead to higher brand familiarity, brand affinity, purchase increase, and recommendation increase. Consider leveraging these types of images in your native ads, especially on mobile.

2.  Labels of transparency

When one is new to market, transparency is critical. Native video units benefit from a clear label. In this case, the word “sponsored” leads to increased recall, familiarity, and interaction on all platforms.

3. Symbols as labels

For more established native units, like a native mobile app install ad, you may use a “$” as a label of transparency.  This is a space to watch as consumers become more accustomed to native units.

4. Logos

Don’t shy away from letting your logo shine in your native advertising. On mobile, a logo leads to a 25 percent increase in fixation. Logo presence is very important, and larger logos deliver recall, action, and longer fixation for your ad on multiple platforms.

target ad-native ad

5. Brand mentions

Brand mentions do not have the same impact as logos, but are still important to include in the headline of your native ad, especially with static image ads. Doing so can lead to a 24 percent increase in aided recall, and 11 percent increase in purchase intent. However, in native advertising, brand mentions in the body of the text do not provide significant changes to brand metrics.

6. Video ads

Native video ads that are about 15 seconds long drive greater recall and purchase intent than longer video units, following the trend seen in general video advertising. Consumers were more likely to fixate on 15-second ads on both PC and mobile; they have shorter patience and are looking for the least disruptive ad experience possible.

7. Auto-start ads

Don’t be afraid to leverage auto-start ads when it comes to native, as it drives a slight increase in brand affinity and outperforms user-initiated ads in recall and fixation.

8. An easy to navigate mobile experience

Ensure that you have a seamless mobile experience in place for the consumer post-click, as users tend to fixate on the “more” button.

In conclusion

Native advertising offers a ton of opportunities for marketers, and there’s a reason it’s been a breakout star in the industry. To ensure you’re making the most out of this impactful ad format, it’s important to be transparent with your audience, leverage people-based images and make sure to strut your logo and brand to encourage recall. As digital video consumption continues to increase, so will the power of short, native video and auto-start ads. Marketers should consider adopting these new formats to keep their brand top-of-mind for consumers.

David Iudica headshot

By: David Iudica, director of strategic insight and research at Yahoo.

As Director, strategic insights and research, David provides support to more than 3000 sales and marketing executives spanning the globe. He is responsible for digital insight initiatives designed to help Yahoo create more meaningful connections between its advertising partners and its consumers. This includes overseeing a group of researchers challenged with providing thought-provoking research to the industry around topics like mobile, video, social, native, and audiences.


Homepage image via Flickr.

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