With the right investment of time and money, native ads can be a big win for your business. To diversify paid channels and jump into native advertising, follow these Secrets to Winning Native Advertising for approaching, optimizing, and successfully scaling your campaigns, writes, Drew Kossoff, CEO, Rainmaker Ad Ventures.

Secrets to Winning Native Advertising

To diversify paid channels and jump into native advertising, follow these Secrets to Winning Native Advertising for approaching, optimizing, and successfully scaling your campaigns:

1. GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH RUNWAY.

Many companies never get their native ad campaigns off the ground because their budgets don’t provide enough runway. In native campaigns, you work with networks that provide run-of-network traffic from thousands of websites of differing quality levels. Leading native networks like Outbrain, Taboola, and Revcontent for web, and LiveIntent and PowerInbox for email, each have distinct strengths and weaknesses in terms of traffic volume, quality, optimization, and compliance requirements.

It takes time (and money) to trim the fat of underperformers and whitelist the stronger ones. I’ve spent as much as $25,000 optimizing a native campaign before it hit breakeven, but then I could spend $100,000+ a month at a positive ROI thereafter. It’s highly unlikely you’ll need to spend $25,000 just to figure out whether a native campaign is viable, but optimization does take time and money. Don’t make the mistake of quitting a campaign too early.

2. TEST HEADLINES AND IMAGES LIKE CRAZY.

Unique ideas and fresh copy angles drive the click-throughs and engagement that will make or break your campaign. Most people simply aren’t testing out enough ideas and creatives to find the big winners.

Your creative team should be throwing ideas at the wall every day. It’s easy to test hundreds of ads, quickly trash the losers, and run with the best ones until they wear out. If you’re short on in-house creatives, you can outsource using services like Fiverr and Upwork or find images and create ads yourself with tools like BigStockPhoto and Bannersnack.

3. EXPERIMENT WITH LANDING PAGE STRATEGIES.

There’s no “one size fits all” in landing pages for native. Some networks require you to drive traffic through advertorial content landers, while others let you send traffic directly to your sales pages, quizzes, or email opt-ins.

We’ve seen campaigns that go directly to a sales page succeed on one network but get disapproved on another, only to get approved when resubmitted with an advertorial lander. Split-test your landing page approaches before coming to any conclusions about the viability of a particular campaign or network. You’ll hit different barriers in compliance and conversion, but keep at it: More testing means more chances to find a winner you can scale.

4. SEGMENT CAMPAIGNS BY DEVICE.

Conversion rates and pricing both vary widely from mobile devices to desktop computers. There’s often a tradeoff: Mobile traffic is typically cheaper but doesn’t convert as well. If you contaminate campaigns by blending visitors together, you can’t exploit efficiencies and weed out inefficiencies.

Therefore, it’s super important to segment your campaigns by device — desktop, mobile, tablet — so you can bid and optimize. Run optimized ads on different devices and see what results you get.

5. PRIME YOUR BIDS.

It’s tempting to underbid on your initial ads, thinking you’re limiting waste, but this can kill a campaign before it gets started. Remember that you’re competing with other advertisers for available inventory; therefore, you need to train ad platforms to think your campaign is a high performer so you can gain early momentum.

You may lose some money on the campaign up front, but it’s far easier to pull back the bids and slide into a comfortable zone than to increase the bids after training the platform to see your campaign as a dud. Once you’ve got momentum, you can adjust your bids to cut out the underperforming sources.

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If native advertising isn’t already part of your digital marketing portfolio, then you’re missing out on a massive customer acquisition channel. You’re also behind the trend: Business Insider Intelligence data indicates that native ads will drive 74% of all U.S. display ad revenue by 2021.

Few forms can better capitalize on current trends than native ads. Given the 90% of U.S. native display ad spending targeting mobile, it’s clearly enabling marketers to capture target audiences right within their preferred digital habitats. If you’re finding success from paid traffic on Google or Facebook, then native ad campaigns could garner even better results.