Research has clearly established the superiority of sponsored content over traditional banner ads in terms of standard digital advertising metrics like mouse-overs or click-throughs. And if click-throughs are much higher for sponsored content than for banner ads, why do so many of those clicks direct to an article on a publisher’s site? In most implementations of native advertising, where the advertiser has limited explicit messaging beyond a logo and perhaps a widget, the unique voice of the brand is completely lost; this is the voice that communicates the value proposition that ultimately helps drive the consumer into the conversion path. Without this bridge from the content to something actionable, the consumer may never make it to the sales funnel.
Advertisers need to be able to measure and optimize every opportunity to maximize their ROI. Advertisers need to ask themselves, what is the goal of the sponsored content they produce? Purchases? Sign-ups? Outside of awareness, content needs to serve a greater purpose and ultimately lead consumers to an advertiser’s owned property. As it currently stands, all too often, the advertiser is relying on whatever metrics the publisher shares -- which are typically quite limited in terms of actionable insights -- and more often are meant to show performance on a particular publisher or technology as opposed to the advertiser’s internal goals.
Native performance indicators, like dwell rates, scroll depth, and sponsored content visits may be useful, but they must be tied to actual user behavior as it relates to the brand. Did dwelling, scrolling, or clicking through actually result in that user entering the brand’s sales funnel at a subsequent date? By understanding the different native KPIs, and tying them to internal performance, brands will be able to improve future content marketing initiatives.
As far as the ultimate objective -- getting your content in front of as many eyeballs as possible -- publishers certainly play a pivotal role in helping you reach your desired audience. Brands should leverage them for that strength, and not relinquish all the control over messaging, because conversion funnels are managed better by brands than by publishers.