Sponsored content. Recommended story. Promoted content. Any way you cut it; native ads are all over the place. They can sometimes be confusing, conflating actual content with nothing more than a promotion landing page.

However, for most community financial institutions that we work with here at MarketMatch, native advertising doesn’t enter into a digital strategy. Running a results-based digital marketing program, it can be difficult to identify and extract the ROI from native advertising.

Recently, a client project that came up that was perfect for native advertising, and we jumped at the chance to show how native ads can generate positive ROI. This isn’t to say that anyone reading this article should run out and start creating native ads, but if the strategy fits, go for it! Here’s how to generate ROI from native advertising.

Objectives and Strategy

For this project, the client wanted to create and be seen as a resource center for car buyers as a way to lead them to the credit union when it came time to finance the loan. Many financial institutions already have the tools to be a resource center, but few organize those tools on a web page that makes it easy for the consumer.

Beyond being able to check rates and apply for an auto loan, the strategy called for a resource center that featured a variety of tools. Things like CARFAX vehicle reports, auto loan calculators, GAP insurance, trade-in valuation, new and used car finders, and a blog-style section of helpful articles for car shoppers were all included.

The other key objective for this client was to create a new starting point for website traffic. Basically, the idea is that if new traffic comes to the site by way of an ad that isn’t directly promoting auto loans, there’s room for more site exploration. The type of site visitor is going to be different versus someone who is coming by way of intent-based ads.

Ad Creation and Placement

When creating native ads, the tone of the copy and imagery is pretty different from a standard display ad or a text-based ad. That’s because native ads fit in among other content. Meaning, the ad must support the idea of value for the site visitor instead of a promotion.

When writing the headlines and descriptions for our native ads, we focused on creating headlines that posed questions to the reader. An example of something like this for our project would be: “How Much Car You Can Afford?” This style differs how auto loan calculators would normally be promoted with headlines like: “Easy Auto Loan Calculators.”

Placement is another key factor that differs in native advertising. Instead of letting Google decide where our ads would get placed based on affinity and in-market audiences, we went a different way. We identified sites that related to car buying, car financing, car repairs, etc. and fed those URLs into Google. Then, we placed our bid amounts high enough to have our ads run on these pages over other native ads.

The end result is a native ad that promotes value-added content on the credit union site while being placed on an extremely relevant website.

Measuring ROI

Of course, native ads will produce all of the similar metrics that are associated with digital advertising. Impressions, clicks, conversions, cost, etc. But measuring ROI with native ads means looking at some different metrics. For this client project, here are three examples:

  • Site crawl: basically, how many pages on the website did people visit when coming from a native ad. The important distinction is not to measure all site traffic, but just the traffic from native ads.
  • Time on site: again, separating out the traffic from only the native ads, measure the average time on site per user session. This is important because we want to make sure the way the native ads are written and presented is delivering the visitor to a place they want to be.
  • Micro conversions: finally, looking at actions on the site that show interest and the possibility of a macro conversion down the road. These could be things like checking out the rates page or visiting the calculators page after viewing the content that the native ad delivered the visitor to.

Native ads won’t be perfect for every situation, but if you find that your bank or credit union is looking to promote value-added content, native ads are a fun solution while still being able to provide ROI!

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