5 Valuable Lessons From Native Ad Leaders

October 31, 2018 Article

“Quick and easy never works in life.”

Since it was founded, the Native Advertising Institute has been a valuable network of companies and resources pertaining to the native ad space. One of its most recent publications focused on lessons native content studios have learned as they have grown. Here are some of the most important lessons for advertisers to remember.

Focus on the audience

Armando Turco, General Manager of Vox Creative (Vox Media’s branded content studio)

“Content can be many things, but the only thing it must be is good.”

As consumer data privacy becomes an increasingly urgent conversation, native advertisers could benefit because native ads require less personal information. Instead, many native advertisers tap into their audience’s needs by monitoring trends and popular conversations on social media.

Listening to your audience is one way to be certain that they’ll listen to the things you’re creating. In return, it helps you build a loyal community of readers who are excited about and engaged in your content.

Never stop learning

Christopher Hercik, Chief Creative Officer at the Foundry, Meredith Corporation

“If you stop learning in this space, you will be quickly passed by.”

It’s no secret that advertising moves fast. In fact, according to a study conducted by Adobe, marketing changed more between 2014 and 2016 than it did in the fifty years predating that period. Accordingly, self-education plays a huge role in marketers’ lives, regardless of how experienced they may be.

Native advertising has changed dramatically since it was first recognized by the IAB in 2014. Market fragmentation and shifting consumer demographics mean that advertisers must constantly evolve with the market. While this presents a challenge, being able to learn from mistakes is a valuable, vital skill.

Build relationships, make a plan

Tom Needham, Executive Director, Branded Content at The Business Journals

“Quick and easy never works in life.”

Successful campaigns aren’t built overnight. They take time and collaboration between both teams and clients. They’re also built on a foundation of trust. Taking the time to strengthen relationships with clients is crucial because it allows you to understand their needs and goals.

Understanding your audience is on par with understanding your clients. Once you know the needs and goals of both your audience and clients, you can make a plan to respond to each. We recently discussed the importance of creating a documented strategy in a blog post. Not only does this force marketers to think strategically about what, when, and where they’re posting, but it helps teams and clients stay on track.

Step outside of your comfort zone

Lindsay Harrison, Creative Content Lead for Mashable Brand X

“Being nimble is critical.”

In the early 2000s, agile software was a popular trend among software developers. Since then, agility has made its way into marketing. Agile marketing favors testing and iterating. Advertisers conduct small-scale experiments that allow them to adapt quickly and optimize content for an audience.

The loop of creating and testing content may not work for everyone (especially those with smaller budgets). However, agile marketing offers valuable lessons. One of the most important lessons is that thinking quickly, constantly, and outside of the box can help teams execute innovative new ideas.

Take risks

Raquel Bubar, T Brand Studio

“It’s all about getting the client to talk about a story that’s greater than themselves.”

Sometimes, the key to great advertising involves taking a risk. Each interaction is a chance for advertisers to build lasting relationships. Putting your all into the work might be a risk, but it’s a risk that highly rewards positive outcomes.

It’s risky for advertisers and clients to work past initial communication materials. At the same time, modern audiences appreciate an authentic brand voice. Telling a story that goes beyond a product or service might force brands outside of their comfort zone, but it’s a risk that could foster strong audience relationships.

The ebook with full text of each respondent’s quote can be found here.