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An Insider’s Guide to Native Ad Sales

January 29, 2015 | By Kevin Van Lenten, SVP of Partnerships. AdsNative

If you are a top tier media company in this day and age, chance are you have a native advertising strategy in place. You’ve done your research, read the success stories and concluded that native ads can drive incremental revenue. However, the question remains: Are you taking advantage of your greatest asset?

I’m not talking about your editorial staff (not to in any way undervalue them); I’m talking about the folks that bring in the checks. Take a closer look at your ad sales team and ask if you are giving them the ability to sell native as a part of their online solutions? If the answer is no, start making changes today.

Most publishers I’ve talked to have a native strategy, but oddly, that strategy often doesn’t include having their sales teams offer native as a part of the sales pitch. Native has become somewhat of a monetization commodity that is being sold by others (ad networks, exchanges) instead of being sold directly by your sales teams. That’s because a $5.00 guarantee on impressions will be enticing to many. (Check out our earlier post on Guarantees for Native Inventory.) Besides, it’s easy to slap some code on the page and add that revenue to your bottom line. But this approach fails to capitalize on the serious revenue that brands are anteing up for great native advertising presented in high-value contexts.

Any guarantee you may get from a third party is really just a floor, remnant if you will. The real value comes when you have at the ability to create and run native placements on your Owned and Operated properties–at scale and for big dollars. Sales teams already connect with brands on a daily basis. They are out there pitching your sites’ audience and all the wonderful media placements you have to offer. Why not give them the ability to sell native to those same brands?  It’s actually much easier than you think.

Here’s three ways you can integrate native advertising into your current ad sales strategy:

1. Build on your advertisers’ current campaigns by offering to create native ads as an extension of their marketing efforts. Creating native ads couldn’t be easier, all you need are readily available assets like a YouTube link, Tumblr post, or Instagram photo and some simple ad copy tied to a destination URL. Plug those pieces into a native ad network’s ad creation studio and out pops a native ad.  There’s no need to hire extra designers or copywriters. With the right ad serving tools, native display campaigns can be set up to run in under two minutes flat.

2. Redistribute branded content the advertiser is already running (i.e. videos, long-from articles, etc.). Everyone is telling marketers to start acting more like publishers, and they are. Countless brands have developed in-house content marketing teams that crank out content on a regular basis. Help brands ensure that their efforts are worthwhile by re-posting their content on your site with clearly labeled modifiers like “Sponsored By Brand X” or “Presented By Brand Y” (DCN has done some research on these best practices among its members).

3. Create your own form of sponsored content or advertorial (here are a few tips on that), and drive the value of your native advertising campaigns up even higher. Remember how I said that you need tap into your available assets to better monetize with native advertising?  Now, I want you to take a look at your editorial staff. Evaluate your writers and pick (or hire) one or two that would be able to create content that can both align with your current editorial offering and your advertisers’ campaign goals. The best native content does both.

Again, you must clearly label the content to indicate that it was paid for by an advertiser. (It’s important to be above board at all times, so as not to mislead your readers and risk losing their trust.) The best part is that this form of native allows you to charge a premium for your editorial services, while ensuring that your readers will still be engaged. After all, who knows your audience better than you do?

Hopefully your convinced that you need to start selling native direct. If you need another nudge, consider this: Brands are projected to spend over $4.3 billion on native advertising in 2015. With a pie that huge, it’s time for you to start taking a bigger piece. Now go schedule a meeting with your head of sales, and start making more money with native today.

Kevin Van Lenten is SVP of Partnerships at AdsNative. Previously he was CRO and GM of Uvidi.com and held various senior sales positions at Vertical Search Works, Touchstorm, Adknowledge, and LearnVest.


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