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Digital Marketers, Here's Your Ultimate Guide to Native Ad Creative

Oct 31, 2017

Maggie_smallBy Maggie Clapperton
Freelance content writer and strategist
Barcelona, Spain

Native ad creative comes with unique challenges. Toeing the line between blending in with editorial content and having your marketing message stand out can be a struggle, not to mention the process of coming up with innumerable variations of headline, description, and image that speak to your target demographic.

If you’re struggling with stale creative and decreasing click rates, here are some quick tricks to freshen up your native creative.


It would be trite to reiterate the importance of your headline. Yet, we’ve all been guilty of under-thinking this crucial aspect of our ads at one time or another. Here are five ways to guarantee a golden headline every time:

1. Ask a question

Nothing prompts interest quite like a big, bold question mark. Draw your audience in by posing your headline as a query or concern that resonates enough to prompt clicks. Of course, make sure your content actually answers your question or your clicks will never convert into loyal customers.


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2. Include your target audience

For niche products and services, including your target audience in your headline can ensure you catch the eye of the right person. While this may limit CTR, those who click are more likely to convert, ultimately decreasing the cost of customer acquisition.


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3. Make it a listicle

3 Reasons Listicles Lead to Clicks:

  1. They manage expectations (amount of info, amount of time, amount of interest) in a space (the internet) overloaded with noise and overwhelmed by choice
  2. By their very nature, listicles promise bite sized, easily digestible bullets of information (i.e, a low level of investment with a maximum level of reward)
  3. I don’t have a third reason but odd numbers are proven to work better than even numbers

4. Clarity is key

Many headlines make complete sense to product experts but very little to the average consumer. If an audience doesn’t understand your message, they are unlikely to click on your ad. It’s important to hire a copywriter who can distill your content’s message into the strict character limits of native advertising platforms.

Example of a lack of clarity:

“Include Your Children in Dinner” -- Why should I “include” my children in dinner? And how? Is this article suggesting I eat my children? 

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Always provide as much of the who, what, where, when, and why as possible. Always assume your audience has little to no background on your topic.

5. Context is king

Do your research and get to know the style of headline your audience expects within the domain categories you have chosen. Try and adhere to common voice and style as much as possible so as not to come off robotic. Ad preview tools are a great way to test this.


For native ads, you have the added benefit of summarizing your content beyond the headline. In 120 characters or less, you get a second chance to entice your audience to click. Think of your description as a sub-heading, a way to further clarify the value readers can expect from your content.

For stellar native ad descriptions, remember to RACE:

1. Recycle

There is absolutely no need for your description to be 100% unique. In fact, your message will be more consistent, and therefore stronger, if you incorporate copy from the blog or landing page you are connecting to.

This does not mean you should simply copy and paste the first sentence of your content into the description box and call it a day. Your description should summarize the whole of the piece and reaffirm why your audience should care. Use keywords and phrases found throughout the article to illustrate what a reader will gain from your brand.

2. Answer your headline

If your headline is posed as a question, post the answer right there in the description. Social media phenom Jenna Kutcher recommends you “give away your best stuff.” This includes your knowledge & expertise before the click. Trust that your customers are interested enough to learn more. Your brand equity will skyrocket.

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3. Call to action

While much of native advertising is centered on engagement, many brands leverage native advertising’s higher than average click through rates for direct response campaigns. If your ad leads to a landing page rather than a piece of content, be sure to clarify with a “hard” CTA in your description. Be explicit about the action you want readers to take. Use phrases like “click to find out…” “click to learn more about…” “click to sign up for…” “click to receive…”

4. Emotion

At the end of the day, you are writing for individuals. While distribution is automatic, reception is human, and our reactions dominate our actions. Native ads are a gateway to entertainment, education, and empathy. Be sure your copy does that content justice and evokes the emotions your message intends.


Your image is yet another chance to convey your message. Your headline, description and image are all pieces of the same puzzle. Be sure they all fit together, or your audience will walk away confused.

 1. Quality

This is obvious. Grainy or stretched images won’t do. Whether you are using stock images from Shutterstock, Getty, or Pixabay, or hiring photography talent, be sure you’re using properly sized and cropped images.

2. Relevancy

As we stated above, your image is yet another way to illustrate your intended message and emotion. Include your target audience and relate to your headline as closely as possible.

3. Representation

Be sure you are accurately representing your diverse customer base as well as your brand. This means being gender, race and, age inclusive when choosing a photo, and at the same time, keeping in mind the visual and ethical attributes of your brand.

This article was originally published on and is reprinted here with permission.

DOWNLOAD: Native Advertising Trends 2017 - The Magazine Industry


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