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Things to consider when choosing your next native advertising agency

The principles of native advertising seemingly fly in the face of the essence of great marketing as it seamlessly slots into the rest of a website.

However, sophisticated audiences have fallen out of love with website ads and pop-ups that often obliterate the flow, alienating them in their online experience. Increasingly, consumers are choosing to implement ad blockers, which means marketers having to find fresh ways to reach them.

Relevant ad integration is a lot less jarring than an awkwardly placed ad and ‘barely there’ advertising is now de rigueur, increasing exponentially since its inception less than a decade ago.

Native advertising is to social networks, search engines and content recommendation platforms what advertorials are to magazines and newspapers and the agency that gets to know your target market; creates your story and understands where best to integrate it is worth its weight in clickthroughs.

As unobtrusive as they are attractive, native ads have become big business for brands looking to add value to any website experience, whilst subtly advertising their services and raising awareness of a brand.

Building brand trust

Building brand trust should be the goal of any targeted marketing. You need to not only appear as a trustworthy source but also provide value to your audience with actionable information within the ad – however, it takes its form.

With its novel non-disruptive approach, native advertising can be anything from simple storytelling in a narrative to a celebrity endorsement, from a case study to top tips, interactive graphics to infographics, animations and quizzes.


Any native advertising agency should consider the needs of the audience as well as what kind of content will provide value to them with targeted content to match the user’s demographic, so that it is addressing issues on a timeline relevant to them. For example, a health tech brand might share top tips to help readers live healthier lives, raising awareness of key actions to improve their overall wellbeing whilst at the same time recommending new devices that are specific to their brand.

Because native advertising is the online equivalent of print advertorials, the copy and images need to blend seamlessly with the rest of the content, which means they must match the quality, too.

Storytelling is a popular option for native advertising with brands boldly taking centre stage – the attraction is in this honesty and openness. Ask you native advertising agency whose stories it has told and how. Can it demonstrate high conversion rates with its flair for readable and clickable copy?

Industry experts predict that virtual reality, particularly in the form of 360-degree video features, is growing in popularity thanks to the power of its realistic and persuasive appeal.

Any advertising integration that matches form and function also requires an intuitive understanding of what is required of countless websites.

Headlines are everything

Headlines need to be well written, clearly explaining to the reader what to expect when they click. You need to stop them in their tracks when they are scrolling down their feed on a site. Ask the agency for some examples of their headline writing skills.

Obviously, they are writing for an audience different from them? How do they get into the mind-set of that reader? What research do they do before ‘putting pen to paper’? What do they think is your story’s USP? Does the agency take time to unearth this? What do you offer that the competition doesn’t? How does the agency ensure the copy is fresh, original and timely? Is the story relevant to the brand and is it native to the publisher? Brand storytelling should live up to the value of the publisher as well as feel authentic to the brand and native to the moment in time as well as native to the platform where it appears.

If it is appearing on a social platform, the content needs to be tailored. For example, editing a video to shorten the length is just a part of it. Is it suitably optimised for viewing on mute – something the user can enjoy whilst commuting?

In essence, native advertising needs to spark a reaction. Does your native advertising agency go for shock or surprise tactics? Is it for laughs? Readers are much more likely to recall and share content if they ‘feel’ something personally – whether that is because of their gender, location, age, education or something else. Geographic specificity is often a winner, when audiences are targeted by city.

Try season and relate to a particular key calendar date, a holiday or sports event. That way, you can plan ahead and still remain relevant.

Need to think about motivating the reader to get to the end. If it's a problem, do you offer a solution? Some topics will require fewer words than others – this is particularly important if links to the brand’s site are at the foot of the post.

The agency needs to think like each specific publisher so the story it creates for your brand blends naturally with the content on the chosen site, having used key data to create content relevant to the reader.

How will your story fit within the overall page design? Does it appear in-stream or out-of-stream? Will it function the same as other elements of like other page elements? Does it deliver a similar content experience compared with the rest of the page?

Will the advert be guaranteed on a specific page, section or website? Will it be delivered across a network of sites and how broad or narrow will it target your audience?

What metrics will the agency use to judge your native ad’s success? Does the advert result in brand engagement or direct response from customers?

Ask the agency what it prioritises when considering your native advertising.  The story should take priority over format – once everyone has agreed to the story, the formatting can be discussed. Your chosen agency should be able to provide you with a variety of options and explain which best suits your brand and why