1) Choose your feed carefully. It’s important to ensure that any native programmatic ad fit well with the overall look and feel of the host page design.
There are many different types of feeds, each of which will give your ad different context. The Interactive Advertising Bureau defines content feeds as publisher sites and news aggregators such as CNN, Forbes and Yahoo. Product feeds are retail sites and app listings such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay, while social feeds are social networking and messaging apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Tango.
The feed that you choose will largely depend on the type of content you have. Story and video ads can be expected to perform better within content and social feeds, product ads would likely perform better surrounded by other product content, and native app install ads are a good fit for social. A native ad on a social feed could also be enriched with social data, such as friends that like a particular profile.
2) Choose your placement. Advertisers can choose to purchase ads that are “in-feed” as a single atomic unit (e.g., hosted on an article page or single image page), outside the core content (e.g., on a right rail), or as a recommendation widget.
Different types of ad placement will involve tradeoffs in terms of performance and inventory. For instance, right-rail ads are likely to have higher inventory but lower click-through rates, and in-feed ads will have the lowest available inventory but above-average click through.
The placement type will dictate the metadata you provide, too. Heavily visual ads are likely to underperform on the right rail for instance, as the thumbnail will be displayed as a smaller size than in an in-feed ad.
As with feeds, you should experiment with which placement types work well for you and continue to optimize as you receive results.
3) Adapt KPIs accordingly. Native programmatic will involve a sea change in traffic KPIs (key performance indicators) when contrasted to display. This change is twofold: There are areas where we can expect native ads to outperform display, and there are some new metrics that you will need to pay attention to if you want to make sure your native ads are performing well — measurements that matter less for display ads.
First, the areas where you should expect native to outperform traditional display are click-through and conversion rate. Native programmatic ads are closer to a publisher’s site in terms of look and feel than traditional display ads, so should drive higher levels of engagement.
Social shares provide great insight into the value of your native ad content. If a native ad was sufficiently good that a certain number of readers wanted to tell their followers about it, it’s easy to compare that with the average number of shares that a piece of social content on your site receives. You should expect programmatic native on the whole to outperform generic display and come closer to social metrics.
4) Understand your platform capabilities. The standards for native programmatic are still evolving. Some DSPs support all of the different feed types, while some choose to specialize in certain ad types or media formats, such as direct response or video storytelling. Some DSPs have been slow to integrate native formats altogether.
Bidding algorithms will also take time to learn and adapt to the new formats. It’s worth watching the results of your campaigns particularly closely with native programmatic, as some platforms do not distinguish according to media type. This can in turn lead to some campaigns not performing as you would expect. The capabilities of native programmatic tools are standardizing, but we’re not there yet.