How to Avoid Making a Bad Native Ad

What makes up a good native ad and what makes it awful

Jenny Aysgarth
Jun 13, 2019 · 3 min read
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Over the past entries, I’ve mentioned native ads countless times. Actually, I could count it but I don’t really want to, and it doesn’t matter much anyway. In any case, all those posts depicted native ads as something good, effective, and beneficial for both audiences and sponsors. And it might have been true, had we lived in a magical world full of ponies, rainbows, and kawaii anime girls.

The sad truth is that native ads can also suck. And this post is about how bad they can suck, and what one can do to ensure their native ad does no such thing.

The ultimate goal of a native ad is to be interesting and useful for all parties involved. As long as it fails to engage the audience or bring any commercial use to the sponsor, it’s safe to say it sucked spectacularly.

To make things clearer, let’s use a completely imaginary example.

The Strange Case of the Air Conditioning Ad

A company producing air conditioners uses native ad in a magazine to promote its products. Or at least they think so. And their native ad is a comparison of three different air conditioners presented as an overview. It is full of technical details, cool photos, statements of how cool it is to have an air conditioner (pun intended, you caught me).

Is it a good native ad? No, it’s not, and here’s why.

If you promote an air conditioner in a magazine intended for wide audiences, there’s no sense it going into technical details. Most people don’t really care about phases or frequencies, they only care about putting a lid on that unbearable heat. In most cases, you can compare one AC unit to another for as long as you like, they won’t make much difference in the mind of an average person.

If it’s a magazine about air conditioners, it’s audience is well aware of all the technical issues involved in the matter. You can’t confuse them with words like ‘condensate evaporator,’ ‘three phase unit,’ or ‘BTU per hour.’ But in that case there is little sense in making a native ad. The magazine is intended for specialists just like yourself, and they don’t need an advertisement. If someone specializes in air conditioners, it means that they either produce or install them, and all they care about is the exact specifications of a particular unit. If it meets the task order, they go for it. They are experienced and have their own opinions about AC units, yours included.

The native ad described above misses both audiences. And by that token alone, it sucks unbearably. As a result, the sponsor spent their money in vain.

What They Should Have Done

If it’s some sort of Air Conditioners Today magazine, you don’t need a native ad at all. Just put your device’s specifications there and be done with it.

However, if it’s a magazine intended for wider audiences like National Geographic or something of the sort, don’t go for overviewing air conditioners. Instead, get an article that shows how they work; explain all those BTU’s per hour and three phase units in layman’s terms; add some comments from a medical doctor about the risks of overheating yourself; and give some useful piece of advice about what to do if you got a heat stroke. Don’t even mention that you sell air conditioners. And when the article is over, place a direct ad of your AC unit. If you care to make your feature look like less of an ad, place your direct ad five to ten pages after that.

This way, you brought an indisputable use to your target audience. You educated them about the essentials of your industry and armed them with the knowledge of what to do in case of a heat stroke. And when they see your air conditioners later in the same magazine, they recall those recommendations and think of getting one.

So, if there is one recommendation that can possibly save you from spending time and money in vain while making a native ad, here it is:

That’s all for today. Stay tuned.

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