Every content marketer has thought of displaying their content on Forbes or Business Insider at least once.
In fact, it’s not impossible to get featured on one of the top world’s online media. You can turn to a PR agency, collaborate with regular contributors, or even try to reach out to the editorial team of the magazine.
There are two tiny issues though. First of all, a single mention on Forbes can cost you up to $9500. Secondly, it can take a few months before you finally manage to achieve a spotlight on the site.
What if we suggest a method that allows you to distribute your content across hundreds of media outlets at a price lower than a single sponsored post typically costs? Sounds good?
Let us introduce you to native advertising.
Content Distribution Method: Native Advertising
If you want to promote your content on Facebook at scale, you use Facebook Ads. If you want to promote your content on publishers’ sites, you use native ads.
What is native advertising?
Native advertising is a way of distributing ads that fit the look and feel of the editorial content across media outlets. In other words, it’s a method of promoting ads that don’t feel like ads.
Below is an example of native ads displayed on the Business Insider website.
On the left, you see content published by the Business Insider editorial team. On the right, you see a content recommendation widget that delivers native ads. If an advertiser does a good job of designing ad creatives that match with the surrounding content, as Babbel does, a reader can’t tell the difference between sponsored content and editorial.
What are native advertising platforms?
How did the content recommendation widget get there? It’s made possible with one of the native advertising platforms.
Each platform has a wide network of publishers and advertisers. The most popular native ad networks are Taboola, Outbrain, Revcontent, and Dianomi. For instance, the Taboola network counts thousands of media outlets, including Business Insider, NBC News, and Bloomberg.
Babbel didn’t have to talk to the Business Insider team before displaying their content on the site; instead, they use Taboola.
These networks operate similarly to Facebook’s Business Manager – all you need to do is to create campaign content, specify your target audience, and set a bid. The platform will do the rest of the work for you.
What about DSPs?
You don’t need to focus on only one network though. Companies that want to run large-scale campaigns will benefit from using a DSP.
Simply put, a demand-side platform, or DSP, is a system that allows advertisers to run their ads across multiple networks through one interface.
Zemanta is one of the most popular DSPs on the market. With it, you can distribute your content across more than 50 native ad exchanges.
What if you don’t want your ads to be displayed on certain websites?
You can exclude publishers just like you manage bids or targeting settings. Since you don’t really know which sites will perform best for you, it’s highly recommended that you exclude sites only after you get the first pieces of the performance data.
How much does it cost to promote content across publishers’ sites?
Native ad platforms typically use a pay-per-click model. The average CPC on top-tier platforms is $0.2 for mobile devices and $0.6 for desktop devices. The cost of each specific campaign will depend on your goals, scale, and targeting preferences.
The Relation Between Native Advertising and Content Marketing
Native advertising and content marketing are often referred to as opposing concepts. However, comparing these two is like comparing apples and oranges.
Native advertising can’t be effective without content. Instead of calling it an alternative to content marketing, we’d say it helps the latter to reach its goals. As a content marketer, you can master native advertising to put your content in front of completely new audiences and fill the top of your sales funnel fast. Whether your content includes online podcasts, blog articles, or video tutorials, it perfectly fits the native advertising format.
Native Advertising for PR Coverage
What’s most interesting about native advertising is that it goes hand in hand with PR. Those who struggle to get media coverage in a particular area might find native ads to be a great, cost-effective alternative.
While your native ad is displayed within a dedicated widget, the reputation of a publisher that hosts this widget does add to the reader’s perception of your content.
Moreover, native advertising allows you to scale your PR campaigns in a way that isn’t possible by applying traditional PR techniques.
How Top Content Marketers Use Native Advertising
Native advertising has become a popular Facebook Ads alternative for top SaaS companies and eCommerce businesses.
While many eCommerce advertisers still treat native ads as a way to promote their products directly (which is not necessarily the right approach, but that’s a topic for a separate post), the majority of SaaS brands and agencies have been effectively supporting their content marketing strategy with this method.
A no-code chatbot platform, Chatfuel, has been promoting how-to articles across the Taboola and Outbrain networks for a few years. By distributing top-funnel content with native ads, the company boosts brand awareness and likely collects audiences for future retargeting campaigns.
Above: Chatfuel native ad and landing page example
Voodle is a video messaging platform for remote teams. By combining content marketing and native advertising, the company helps their target audience to overcome the challenges of remote work and embrace its benefits.
Above: Voodle native ad and landing page example
Native Advertising Best Practices for Content Marketers
Native advertising isn’t as simple as it seems to those who have at least some experience with Facebook Ads. In fact, it’s very different from any advertising method.
If you want to promote your content across large media outlets with native ads, you’ll need to follow these tips:
- Choose a platform that offers a relevant network. Do you want to distribute your content across sites that focus on financial and business news? You might want to explore Dianomi. Do you want to reach the widest possible audience? Taboola and Outbrain will work well. It’s also worth paying attention to the countries a specific network drives the highest portion of traffic from.
- Avoid getting too specific with targeting options. Specifying your target audience’s basic demographics is enough if you want to expand your reach. Moreover, advanced targeting options, like lookalike audiences or interest-based targeting don’t perform as well as they do on Facebook.
- Use ad headlines to filter out irrelevant audiences and attract the right people.
- Keep track of CTRs and user behavior metrics, like time on page and scroll depth, on a publisher level. If certain sites deliver a lot of visitors that hardly ever read through your content, it’s best to exclude them.
Ramp Up Your Content Distribution with Native Ads
Native advertising is probably the most powerful promotional practice with which to complement your content marketing strategy. With it, you can reach audiences of hundreds or even thousands of websites without paying for placements – you only pay when your target audience chooses to read your content.
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