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New to native advertising? 5 ways to adapt social media ads for native

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February 22, 2023 | 8 min read

If you've been running ads on social media, then you know the pain of dwindling reach, fluctuating prices and siloed data

If you've been running ads on social media, then you know the pain of dwindling reach, fluctuating prices and siloed data. And you're not alone. In 2022, major social platforms like Facebook and YouTube saw their first-ever declines in ad revenue. Many advertisers are looking to diversify their customer acquisition channels and reduce their reliance on social media ads. One alternative channel they're exploring is native advertising on the open web. Using native ads, businesses reach massive audiences across premium publisher properties at competitive rates. The “news trust halo" — the effect of earning consumer trust by delivering ads alongside trusted news content, makes native ads highly effective for driving consumers to take action, such as filling out a lead form or making a purchase.

What are native ads?

Native advertising is an ad format that blends naturally into the page’s content. Its design is cohesive and consistent with the platform behavior, making the user feel like it’s not an ad, but part of the content.

Native ads appear as part of a website to enrich the user experience, creating a more seamless encounter and making the reader more likely to positively react to your ads and products.

For example, a publisher site might incorporate native advertising placements on their homepage, in mid-article units, or below the article, recommending content from advertisers that users may find interesting.

If you're just starting to dip a toe into running native campaigns, you don't have to start from scratch. You can use your social ads as a foundation to build engaging native campaigns. But you can't just copy and paste your existing creatives. That's because the consumer mindset is different on the open web than it is on social platforms.

On social media, people are scrolling through posts from friends, family, and creators. On the open web, they're consuming content that's professionally produced by media outlets. So the accompanying ads will — and should — look different.

That's where this guide can help.

Here are five easy steps to adapt the social ads you already have and get native ads up and running with minimal effort.

1. Shorten titles, descriptions, and CTAs

Publisher copy tends to be shorter and punchier than social media copy. So if you're building ads for native distribution across publisher sites, it's best to take an editorial approach to your headlines and descriptions.

Specifically, you can use these tips to adjust your social copy:

  • Shorten headlines to 40-50 characters, 60 at most.
  • Include actionable words that grab people's attention and make an impact.
  • Most native platforms offer Dynamic Keyword Insertion: use this to automatically personalize titles based on each user's location or device.

For example, when adapting their social media campaigns for native, mattress retailer OTTY Sleep shortened their 80 character Facebook ad headline featuring multiple emojis to simple, editorial-style headlines like 'The £450 Mattress That The UK is Loving'. The native campaign they launched generated them a massive 7.8x return on ad spend.

2. Simplify and resize images

Unlike ad copy, images on social platforms are commonly more polished than those on the open web – after all, people often spend hours taking and editing the perfect photo to showcase who they are on social media. On the open web, it's best to use visuals that feel real and relatable instead of glossy and edited.

These best practices can help guide you:

  • Remove any text on the image and pull the focus to a singular subject, like a person or product.
  • Use motion ads to capture your audience's attention.
  • Experiment with user-generated content.

Language learning app Babbel, for instance, already had a Facebook ad image to work with. But that image was overlaid with text and too zoomed-out for the open web. By simply cropping the visual and removing the text, Babbel was able to run their image in a native ad and generate 100,000 new leads a month.

3. Optimize videos

Video on the open web is a different beast than video on social media. And while it may be tempting to just pluck a Facebook video and place it on a publisher site, there are small post-production edits you can make to generate better results. Use these best practices to prepare for native video campaigns:

  • Open with a logo and include it throughout your video to cement association with your brand. According to a recent study from Kantar and Taboola,native video drove over 5x higher message association lift than other digital channels.
  • Add subtitles for sound-off viewing. On the open web, people are likely to be reading articles and blogs and less ready to turn on sound for videos.
  • Use subtle, slow-paced movements so videos don't look like flashy display ads. Remember that native ads are meant to fit seamlessly into their environments, helping you beat banner blindness.
  • Include a CTA button that inspires users to complete a certain action, like clicking through to your site and checking out relevant content.

Consider global oral hygiene brand, Oral-B. They created a native video ad with slow-moving shots, close-up visuals, a clear logo throughout, and a click worthy CTA. As a result, Oral-B generated 10% higher viewability, a 12% higher completion rate, and a 23% higher CTR.

4. Set targeting parameters

Once you've adjusted your creatives, it's easy to target a variety of audiences using native platforms, just like you would on social media. On the open web, for example, you can target:

  • Marketplace audiences: target according to demographics, interests and behaviors.
  • Contextual audiences: deliver ads that match the content people are already consuming. For instance, you might display an ad for athleisure wear at the bottom of a sports-related article.
  • Lookalike audiences: target people who are similar to your loyal customers.
  • Retargeted audiences: reach people who have engaged with your brand but not yet converted.

When you're just getting started, it helps to use broad targeting settings to gather insights and then narrow your focus based on those findings. You can also let your creatives do the targeting. Meaning, you can call out your target audience right in your copy. If targeting entrepreneurs, for example, you might use headline like "Entrepreneurs Love These Work-From-Home Hacks."

5. Measure and optimize

Just like on any other channel, it's important to track results so you can learn which publishers, audiences, and creatives deliver the best performance. With this data, you can optimize your campaigns to meet key business goals and maximize ROI.

Unlock the power of native advertising

Building your first native advertising campaign doesn't have to be a struggle. It's relatively simple to adapt existing social creatives for native ads and test your performance on a new channel.

In fact, native advertising is already proven to deliver greater results than social channels. Recent studies from Kantar and Taboola show that native ads boost mid-funnel KPIs like consideration and outperform social media in improving metrics like brand awareness and favorability.

Now, you can use the resources you already have to start driving these results for your brand and harness the many benefits of native advertising.

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