There are thousands of ways a business could try to advertise their products or services. There are mailers, sandwich boards, and ads in a newspaper or magazine. There are radio spots, corporate sponsorships, and email blasts. But as people are turning to a digital lifestyle in droves, businesses must adapt their ad tactics to reach their target audience and make sure that their products and services are seen.

Traditional online display ads and banner ads are still effective, but businesses who experiment with native advertising may find that they have higher click-through rates and greater consumer outreach if they’re used properly.

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What is native advertising?

Native ads are a type of online advertising that effectively blends into the platform it appears within. Where a traditional display ad could show up anywhere, native ads are less visually disruptive to a user’s online experience because they’re formatted to match the content of the media source. These types of digital ads provide an opportunity for creative exposure, and advertisers can be certain that the audience already enjoys the format where the ad is presented. In many instances, native ads can outperform traditional advertising. This may be due to the fact that the content of the ads is consumed in a manner that feels natural to a user’s normal media consumption.

There are several potential benefits of using native advertising for publishers and advertisers. High-quality native ads can present a brand in a more human light and establish an emotional connection, helping to build trust with an audience of potential customers.

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How to connect with customers using native ads

No one likes commercials or feeling like they’re being bombarded with ads. In fact, streaming platforms offer ad-free versions of their services at a premium price. Web browsers have pop-up ad blockers built in so people don't feel they’re being interrupted. Native ads allow businesses to connect with their audience in a way that feels natural and unobtrusive.

Some ways that a business can use native advertising to reach their customers include:

  • Shareable, stellar content. It may seem obvious, but native advertising is at its best when the content is truly outstanding. It should be unique and show a certain amount of awareness about who its audience is and what will resonate with them. Good content can encourage greater engagement and conversion but can also result in the ad being shared on social networks and shown to friends and family. Your business can earn the trust of its customers by treating them as individuals with value who are essential to a brand’s success. Ads that are too pushy, come across as clickbait, or are deceitful in any way will drive your audience away. Keep your content honest and engaging, and your customers will help to broaden your brand’s overall audience.
  • Include labels. When your ads are relevant to your audience and not disrupting their experience, your customers won’t mind seeing them. Make sure that you’re labeling your ads as such to distinguish them from traditional content. This can help you connect with your customers because they’ll appreciate the honesty. Consumers who feel like they’re being tricked will be less likely to give you their business and their loyalty.
  • Bring value. One way that a business can reach its customers is by using native advertising to show how a product or service can make someone’s life easier or better. Because this ad will blend seamlessly into the platform it appears on, it may show up as a sponsored blog post detailing “Products that you can’t live without” or “This mobile app has improved my sleep.” Create native ads showcase how your product or service brings value to the lives of your customers.
  • Keep it relevant. Once you have a firm understanding of who your target audience is, they should never be far from your mind when you’re creating native ads. Use them to create an emotional connection by treating them like a conversation rather than a billboard. Anticipate the questions and needs they may have and take the time to truly understand what resonates with them. When consumers feel connected to a brand, they’re more likely to consistently choose that brand over its competitors.

Things to keep in mind when creating native ads

When you’re creating native advertisements for your business, there are a few things that designers should be aware of:

Ensure that the ad looks like a natural part of the page

This may be the golden rule of native advertising. The ad should not blink or flash or pop up or bother the consumer in any way because it manages to blend seamlessly into its platform.

Place the ad where it fits best on the page or in the app

Placement of a native ad may be just as important as its content. You want to make sure that your customers won’t scroll right past it or that it’s buried at the bottom of a page and not seen at all. This may take some trial and error to see what kind of placement performs the best on various platforms. A native video ad can offer a new way for a consumer to interact with a brand, but it isn’t effective if it isn’t seen.

Mimic the design of the website or app

Advertisers should be acutely aware of how the platform’s posts are formatted. This may include understanding colors, fonts, and text formatting in order to mimic the host’s design.

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Prioritize good content

Spend the time on content that is relevant to your audience and on a headline that grabs their attention. Resist any kind of ad copy that resembles clickbait, as this can actively steer your audience away from you.

Retarget when appropriate

If customers have interacted with your business’s native ads before, create other native ads to retarget them. They’ve already shown a willingness to interact with your brand and your ads. Think about what worked in the past and try to create ads with a similar vibe that can convert the casual observer into a paying customer.

Keep your audience in mind

The content should be informative and entertaining and may play automatically without a customer having to actively click play. They present the option for customers to stop and watch or simply keep scrolling, but if your content is targeted, you can use this as an opportunity to make a connection.

How do mobile native ads differ from regular native ads?

The concepts of mobile native ads and desktop native ads are the same. Each is composed of sponsored content, social media ads, and in-feed ads. The primary difference between these two is how users behave on a desktop computer as opposed to how they behave while using a mobile device. Desktop devices are primarily used at work or for more professional purposes. Mobile devices are more often used for personal activities like shopping, using apps, reading websites for personal enjoyment, and scrolling social media. This presents a unique opportunity to reach an audience that is looking out for themselves.

Businesses that plan to start using native advertising should consider who their audience is and what their goals are. If the product or service is more professional in nature, desktop native ads might be the way to go. However, brands that have a more personal connection with customers, as opposed to those that are used for business purposes, might have more success focusing on mobile native ads.

Get started today

Native advertisements are unintrusive and blend seamlessly into their surrounding content. They provide an incredible way for businesses to reach their desired customers and connect with them on a personal level by providing content that is relatable, educational, and entertaining. Reach professionals at work with desktop native ads and connect with those same professionals in their downtime with mobile native ads. Use each platform to your advantage and create meaningful content that meets your customers where they are.

Microsoft Advertising can help your businesses reach millions of potential clients through perfectly placed native ads. Create content that satisfies the needs of your customers and monitor your native ad campaigns in real time.

Get started creating, tracking, and optimizing your business’s native ads with Microsoft Advertising.