Creative Open Mic Marketing

Stop the scroll: boost native ad attention with these 4 data-backed creative strategies

By Emilie Coalson-Kiner



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June 5, 2024 | 7 min read

In an era where attention is currency, optimizing your creatives to capture this valuable resource is key, says Emilie Coalson-Kiner (senior UK marketing manager, Taboola). Here, she dives into the data-backed campaign strategies Taboola's in-house creative agency, Creative Shop, uses to grab attention and drive action.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? This age-old question perfectly captures the modern advertiser's dilemma: if an ad is served on a webpage – is even viewable – but users don't pay attention to it, is the ad achieving its purpose?

The answer, of course, is a resounding 'no.' We've come to understand that impressions and viewability are not synonymous with attention, which explains why 95% of marketers are now prioritizing attention-based metrics in some or all of their ad buys.

With the average attention span clocking in at a fleeting eight seconds and countless ads vying for those moments, how can you create native ads that grab attention, spark curiosity, and foster a connection with the consumer?

You need to keep a few things in mind.

First, not all advertising platforms are created equal; a Nielsen study found native ads appearing on Taboola capture 25% more attention and elicit a 23% higher emotional response than when the same brand message appears on social and video platforms.

Second, to harness the potential of every channel you're using, you need to adapt your strategy for that environment. In the case of native advertising, the most successful ads aren't flashy or disruptive. Appearing in editorial environments, they're most effective at standing out when they're blending in.

Third, you must be deliberate when choosing ad elements, relying on data and trends that reflect consumer behavior.

This is where the data analysts and campaign strategists from Taboola's Creative Shop come in. Drawing on analytics from over 9,000 publishers and close to 600 million daily users, they've compiled their best data-backed insights, practical tips, and validated strategies designed to seize meaningful attention.

Here's their best advice, broken down into four key topics.

1. People look at people

Incorporating people into your native ad visuals is a powerful way to grab viewers' attention. Why? Humans are social creatures. We seek connection, and our brains are wired to pay attention to other faces.

Mirror your audience

People subconsciously connect with others that resemble them, so feature individuals who reflect your target demographic. Test images displaying different emotions — joy, curiosity, sadness — to see which resonates best. For maximum impact, use close-up shots (from the shoulders up) that create a more intimate and engaging experience.

The power of touch

Bridge the gap between viewer and product by incorporating images featuring hands holding or interacting with your product, or shots taken from the point of view of the user. This simple technique personalizes the experience of the ad and allows viewers to imagine themselves using the product in everyday life.

Authenticity rules

Ditch the polished studio shots and embrace more authentic visuals. Consider experimenting with user-generated content, even if the images are lower quality or imperfectly framed. These authentic images foster trust and relatability, making your native ad feel more like a genuine recommendation from a friend, or an editorial article.

2. Establish a point of focus

In the overcrowded world of online advertising, a cluttered ad is a forgotten ad. To truly stand out, your native ad image needs a clear visual hierarchy and defined point of focus.

Simple, de-cluttered images

Avoid overwhelming viewers with overly busy visuals. Clean images with a single, central focal point allow viewers to instantly grasp the essence of your ad without scattering their attention.

Captivate with color

Use eye-catching colors to attract user attention. If your brand has a signature colour scheme, weave it into your visuals to strengthen brand recognition and association.

Don't look like a banner

Avoid elements that scream 'advertisement!' ClipArt, brand logos, and text layers often become invisible to ad-weary consumers. Instead, opt for subtlety and visuals that work well with the content, making them noticeable without the tell-tale signs of a traditional banner.

3. Humans are drawn to motion

Just like our brains are wired to pay attention to people, they're also incredibly attuned to motion: detecting potential predators or prey was a matter of life and death for our ancestors. Incorporating subtle movements with short videos can grab attention and improve CTRs by an average of 30%.

From stills to stories

Breathe life into static images with tools like Taboola's Motion Ads. You can add visual overlays, create zoom effects, or tell a mini story by transitioning between multiple images in a captivating sequence, without having to produce a full length video.

Repurpose with intention

If you have existing video content from YouTube or TV commercials, chop it up or stitch great clips together. Test different snippets to see what attracts attention and leverage the power of familiar visuals to boost interest and brand recognition across multiple channels.

Stock up

Video is expensive to produce, so don't underestimate stock footage. Choose authentic-looking videos that complement your brand and messaging. You can access thousands of royalty-free stock images and videos from directly within the Taboola platform.

4. Make it personal

Crafting an advertisement is like extending a personal invite to your audience. It should be clear, concise, and, most importantly, talk directly to your target audience.

Call out your audience

When you call out your audience by demographics, interests, or traits, you're not just getting their attention; you're speaking to their identity and positioning your product as a solution to their unique needs. Instead of a generic headline like 'Looking for a New Workout Routine?', try 'Busy Professionals: 15-Minute Workouts That Fit Your Schedule.'

Front-load value

Don't bury the lead. Front-load your titles. Headlines that start with a bang are likelier to stop thumbs in their tracks. 'Double Your Productivity in Just 10 Minutes a Day' is far more effective than 'Productivity Tips and Tools.'

Dynamic keywords equal hyper-relevance

Take personalization a step further with dynamic keyword insertion, which tailors headlines to specific user attributes like location or device type. Imagine seeing a headline like 'Best Places to Work from in Shoreditch When You're Tired of WFH.'

Make use of every element

Descriptions and CTA buttons aren't finishing touches. They are informative invitations to engage further and can improve conversion rates by an average of 15%.

The attention revolution: level up your native ads

The human attention span is a precious commodity, and capturing it is more important than ever. By applying the creative strategies shared here, you can craft native ads that resonate with consumers and drive meaningful results.

Remember, small changes can yield big results, and A/B testing can reveal your most promising campaigns. The tools and techniques you've discovered here are waiting to be activated – go forth and create native ads that rise above the noise and get noticed.

Creative Open Mic Marketing


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