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5 steps to build a successful native campaign

Two people sitting on a sofa in front of a tablet.

Digital advertising is constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of users. Advertisers must get creative as people become more sophisticated in how they discover and interact with content. This is where the use of native advertising comes in.

Native ads are a form of advertisements that are more contextual than the traditional display and banner ads used in the space.

Native advertising excels because of its ability to blend with a chosen environment. In a world where consumers see thousands of ads daily, creating advertising that doesn’t feel overt and promotional goes a long way toward increasing engagement.

Find out five things you can do when creating your native campaigns to help make them even more successful.

1. Determine success metrics and a measurement plan before launch

Setting a goal and determining how you'll measure it is among the most critical steps you can take when setting up your native campaign.

If you’re selling cupcakes or automobiles, it may be essential to consider the cost per acquisition (CPA)—and we’re guessing the acceptable CPA for those examples is widely different! Determine how much you’re able or willing to spend on advertising to sell one cupcake or one car. Monitor your reports closely to ensure you’re staying close to your goal, and if not, tweak one variable at a time and see if the results improve.

Benchmark

  • Before launching your campaigns, determine your key performance indicators (KPI). Are you measuring impressions, click-through rate (CTR), CPA, or return on ad spend (ROAS)? Once you know what you’re measuring, determine what you’d like it to be and compare it to what it is.
  • Determine your goal, aim for it, and adjust your native campaigns until you get there.
  • Decide what pricing model will work best for your campaign. You can choose from cost per click (CPC), cost per mille (per thousand impressions—CPM), or cost per view (CPV). If you want a lot of reach and awareness, a CPM or CPV model might work best, but consider a CPC model if you want to convert with people ready to buy.

Test, test, test

Have we mentioned goals and measurement yet? You can tell we’re serious about setting goals and reaching them!

Native campaigns are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Just because an approach worked in the past doesn’t mean it will now. So, being open to testing and trying new things is imperative to continual growth and high performance. If one structure, format, or audience doesn’t work as expected, don’t get discouraged: Test again.

Reporting tips

  • Regularly pull account reporting so you can adjust quickly if needed.
  • Include share of voice (SOV) reporting to see how you’re ranking against the competition.
  • Pay attention to view-through conversions to understand the entire journey of your audience.
  • Review ad effectiveness and lift analyses to measure incrementality across your campaign.

Example of a reporting dashboard.

If you have a lot of campaigns, try the Microsoft Advertising Editor to manage and optimize your search, shopping, audience campaigns from the same place and be more productive.

2. Use lifestyle images and engaging ad copy to increase performance

Your campaigns' success largely depends on your images' creativity and how well they enable you to engage audiences without being disruptive.

A survey from eMarketer, including shoppers in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, found that 62% said they’re more likely to purchase based on photos and video.

Two examples of native campaign ads that use lifestyle images.

Lifestyle images include people doing real-life activities. It could be one person or several likely using your product. Ideally, these images display a feeling you want people to relate to your brand story or product.

Images tell a story without one word of copy, whether that’s a concert, a busy kitchen, or someone walking a dog. People might be wearing a suit, a uniform, or a nurse taking blood pressure. These images help people envision using the product or service and tell a lot about the story.

Try these creative best practices:

  • Leverage bright and inviting color palettes.
  • Test ad copy that asks a question and another that informs.
  • Complement your funnel strategy. If your goal is awareness, branding is key. But if you want to convert, include a call to action (CTA).
  • Timing is everything. Keep seasonality in mind, or your ads could feel dated.
  • Test and learn. Avoid user fatigue by running three to five ad variations at a time. Have additional images on hand.

Creator tools in the Microsoft Audience Network is free. It can edit and modify your images to give them different looks. We also partner with Shutterstock to provide over 360 million high-quality advertising-ready images.

3. Be specific with targeting, but not too specific

Reaching the right people is critical to a successful ad. If you’re showing V8 engine building kits to grandmas interested in crochet, chances are your ads won’t be very effective. It's best to start with broad targeting parameters within a reasonably defined range.

Monitor to see who is engaging with your ad and start eliminating the lowest performing segments. Do this until you have a narrow audience with a big enough reach to make the impact you require to reach your goal.

If you target an audience that’s too small, you might not have the reach required to meet your goals. Just because someone doesn’t fit every parameter doesn’t mean they’re not interested in your ad. A little bit of breadth will enable you to grow your audience.

You might just find that some audiences will unexpectedly be high performers for you— for instance, we’ve seen golf in market segments perform remarkably well for major health insurance advertisers.

4. Structure campaigns according to goals

Create a separate campaign for each target and customize it based on the goal and relevant audiences. This will enable you to monitor and adjust according to set parameters without impacting what works great for one specific audience or objective. It'll also give you flexibility in reach, make understanding and reporting measurement easier.

An example of a native campaign audience strategy

5. Check in regularly with your campaigns and optimize

Monitor performance weekly with the following in mind:

  • Make sure you have conversion and click-tracking set up.
  • Check bids and update regularly. Ensure that your bids are competitive enough to win volume.
  • Test multiple assets and ensure ad copy relevancy.
  • Experiment with new audiences.

Start your native campaign today

With the Microsoft Audience Network, you can engage meaningfully with a unique audience in brand-safe environments and reach your audience on brand-safe sites. You’ll be able to connect with millions across devices through high-quality native campaign placements and IAS-certified brand-safe properties.

Following these tips can help you drive highly personalized engagements with your ideal customers while leveraging Microsoft's first-party intent data.

Native advertising can help you achieve your key marketing goals and reach consumers across their buyer journey using unique targeting available only through Microsoft AI. Give it a try!

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To learn more and get started today, go to microsoftadvertising.com/native.