Many native ad providers have “emerged” since native advertising became a buzzword. And it’s no wonder: native ad spend is estimated to climb to nearly $8 billion this year and keep growing to $21 billion by 2018.
To make sure you’re getting the best campaign results, the strongest ROI and the most value from this growing trend, there are a few important things to consider. It begins with doing your homework and reading the fine print to ensure you know what you’re signing up for.
1. No Long-Term Contracts at Trial
Like making any business decision, do your research first. That means testing different networks — this is the only way you can really experience a network and its services. Any network that is reputable and can provide the rates and service you’re looking for won’t mind letting you “test drive.”
But when you sign up for a test, some networks automatically opt publishers into a year-long contract. Make sure to read all of the fine print before you click “OK.”
Once you do know what you’re getting from a network and have a real sense of its quality, it’s perfectly acceptable to make a longer-term commitment.
2. Clear Rate Structure
Publishers are often hesitant to ask questions about the rates initially offered to them. If you decide to use a revenue share — which means the network takes a percentage of the earnings for the work involved in dealing with advertisers — make sure you understand exactly what that means when you’re calculating revenue long term.
One network may generate a $3 cost per thousand impressions/views and offer a 70 percent revenue share, which is actually a much better deal in the long run than a network that offers a 90 percent revenue share of $2. Another situation that many publishers run into involves networks offering a $10 CPM — but only for the top 10 percent of users from a publisher’s audience. That means you aren’t making any real money on the other 90 percent of your traffic.
When providers tell you they can do a CPM that seems a little too good to be true, ask them what percentage of the inventory they can fill.
3. Advanced Analytics and Technology
In a world where data means everything, make sure your network partner has advanced analytics. This can help you determine which content on your site (or sites) is the most valuable in generating revenue. This will also allow you to capitalize on the best performing pages so you can generate higher margins and possibly increase ads to these pages.
Advanced analytics provide publishers with the best opportunity to make the most revenue. They allow you to really look at the performance of your site — not just holistically, but also in pieces to discern what changes would be most beneficial to your bottom line.
The more analytics provided, the more transparent your network will be. You should be able to find out almost everything about the ads being served (and their performance) on your site.
Technology is equally important. Real-time bidding (RTB) and programmatic opportunities are the future of advertising, so make sure to ask if providers are RTB-enabled and can accept bids from side platforms.
A partner who isn’t set up like this might not be able to meet your future technology needs; needs you may not even realize exist, yet.
4. High Quality, Diverse Ads
For any native ad network to maintain a fixed placement on a website consistently, it will need to have a large and diverse number of offers. Otherwise, fatigue will set in. Many smaller native ad networks can find this particularly challenging. So look for a partner that has a number of different types of advertisers because putting all of your eggs in one basket never helps. Also, if any percentage of your traffic is international, ask the network about its overseas advertisers.
It’s also important to get a list of the top 50 advertisers, as well as examples of the creative they use. If the ads you see are extremely graphic, they might not be the type of brands you want to portray on your site. To this effect, look at the landing pages of the offers you see, and make sure they are real landing pages. It’s extremely important to ensure your brand is offering your audience the best possible reader experience; you have to keep your audience happy or you won’t have any revenue coming in.
So when you’re comparing the rates and services of multiple networks, the only way to get a better deal is to be honest. Be open about your goals, terms, CPMs, and where your traffic is coming from. Make sure the network you’re working with can meet your goals. The more open you are upfront, the better the relationship you’ll build over the long term. You’ll never regret being honest, and when you find a network partner who does the same, everyone is happy.
Let us know about your experiences with native advertising in the comments.