Four Native Ad Challenges and Tips for Dealing With Them

By David Landes, Content Director at Tale
Jan 13, 2020

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that all your native advertising challenges are unique to you and your particular circumstances—given the breadth and diversity of the field. Every situation is unique, and requires unique and creative ideas to solve. Right?

Yes, to a certain extent. One of the factors that make native advertising challenging, but also extremely effective when done right, is that it's not plug-and-play.

That being said, it is possible to pinpoint some of the most common challenges, and provide some best case practices for addressing them head-on. In fact, is what we have done in the following article. We've identified four common challenges, and listed out some key tips in overcoming them. So read on – hopefully, something here can help you too.

1. Establishing Trust

Trust is central to many aspects of native advertising: trust between client and studio; publisher and audience; brand and consumer. Why does it matter? Well, brands who lie will die – eventually. Therefore honesty and transparency can be your strongest allies. Yet it can be a big challenge to establish trust across the entire scope of a project.

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Poor communication is another roadblock to building trust: excellent communication is key to developing a trustworthy collaboration within and between organizations. And creative studios or agencies shouldn't merely be seen as hired help, but rather as valid and equal partners that can be trusted to create content with the clients' best interests in mind.

Tips for establishing trust:

Break down silos
Keep everyone informed during all critical stages of development and implementation, so different functions don't pull in different directions. PR, marketing, sales, and media should meet and talk more often.

More facetime
Have more face-to-face, in-person interactions to build more personal relationships. Acknowledging and recognizing people's humanity makes it easier to build trust and cooperation.

Educate and inform
Spend more time explaining your approaches and goals to both internal stakeholders and clients. Don't assume everyone understands the why, what, and where.

Leverage 'micro-influencers'
Find 'real people' to carry your message, rather than relying on professional 'influencers'.Empower employees, consumers, other stakeholders to become your champions, by offering authentic testimonials.

 

2. Creating Content with Soul

Creating content that resonates and invokes trust from a reader, while simultaneously being leaden down by a need to produce a result, is a native advertising challenge that overcomes many marketers. Much of this derives from companies not understanding their own "soul," and therefore failing at projecting that outward.

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In addition, many companies can be too short-sighted rather than taking a long-term approach to what and how they communicate. Delivering soulful content - and developing relationships that help it emerge - takes a significant investment in time and money over time.

Similarly, there is often a general fear of bucking the status quo. Whether it's about protecting current power, or wanting to stay in a known comfort zone, there is often not enough risk-taking to help imbue content with the "soul" we'd all like.

Tips for producing soulful content:

Embrace transparency
Communication and openness can increase understanding between different groups. The more people and groups understand about one another, the more inclined they are to share.

Keep asking why
Don't only ask once, ask ten times. Ask yourself, your colleagues, and your clients.

Play the long game
Spend the money and be prepared to invest for the long-term and make plans that reflect that ambition.

Cultivate feedback
Get and give lots of feedback, both within your company and with customers, before and after a campaign. Never stop fighting for what's better and what you believe in. But most of all, …be patient.

 

3. Scale and Reach

The difficulty of scaling up distribution to maximize reach and impact is a common native advertising challenge and a frequent topic of conversation. How do we make sure our great content gets seen by the right audience? And can 'true native' for one publisher's channel work on other channels?

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But maintaining high quality as you scale can be tricky, and changing social algorithms make it hard to determine budgets needed to attain the desired reach. Even agreeing on KPIs that include both quality and reach isn't always obvious, nor is knowing at launch whether content quality or distribution strategy will have a more significant impact on overall performance.

Tips for success:

Decide on quality vs scale
All native advertising stakeholders (brands, studios, and publishers) need to agree on what's most important and allocate resources accordingly.

Testing, testing, and more testing
Build in a data-driven approach to distribution. Try different combinations of audience segments, channels, headlines, etc. Identify what works best, optimize, and apply what you learned with each successive campaign.

Quality affects impact
Going viral can feel great, but if your moment in the viral spotlight features low-quality content, it doesn't necessarily mean you reached your campaign goals. And it may put you in a brand perception hole that's hard to dig out of.

 

4. Measuring success

Was your native campaign a success? Says who? While everyone agrees on the importance of measurement, few seem capable of settling on exactly what metrics to track and how to interpret the numbers. Capturing quality data and consistently acting on it is a lot harder than it seems. 

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At present, there are plenty of metrics service providers, but many are too complex or expensive to be implemented by smaller or niche operations. It's also hard to get publishers, brands, and analytics providers to share (comparable) data.

We also don't have accepted industry benchmarks for measuring the performance of native advertising campaigns. Studio, agencies and brands are forced to develop methods of their own.

Tips for success:

Engage independent experts
Third-party experts from universities or research organizations can help establish a framework that is acceptable to various native advertising stakeholders: agencies, studios, and advertisers.

Include quantity and quality
Accepted measurement standards must consist of a framework for assessing the quality of a given piece of content, as well as the value of its impact.

Develop a measurement business model
Consider who pays for ensuring quality measurement and who owns/gets access to the data/results.


Photos by: Jukan Tateisi, Bernard Hermant , Nathan Shipps

 

Story by David Landes

David Landes is Content Director at Tale, a newly-started content agency within Diplomat Group, a strategic communications advisory firm based in Stockholm. David is former Head of Commercial Content at The Local, Europe’s leading network of English language news sites. He joined The Local as a journalist in 2008, serving as editor of The Local Sweden from 2010 to 2014 before launching The Local Client Studio. In addition to earlier journalistic stints with the Financial Times and the PBS NewsHour, David has also worked in commercial and public diplomacy at the US Embassy in Stockholm and the Meridian International Center in Washington, DC. He holds an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

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