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Native advertising with Google: 10 things you should know before trying it

Perhaps after reading this article, you will fully agree that “Google Matched Content”, which is an attempt to remain relevant at a time when the market is pivoting towards native advertising, does not work for advertisers nor for publishers. There are plenty of amazing options out there that will bring a higher ROI on your ad dollars – and more revenue for publishers.

This assertion is something I will back up with a bit of substance, but first let’s consider definitions and a brief history of native ads. The definition I would attribute is the following:Native advertising, is a form of advertising where advertisers content blends in with that of the publisher in a manner that it bypasses any ad blocking, provides a direct link to the advertisers website which can be indexed by search engines and has the potential of a direct financial transaction between the advertiser and publisher. Naturally, native advertising is the perfect answer to your content marketing strategy requirements.

Here is why the ad industry moved rapidly towards native advertising:

  1. Savings: It is able to remove the middleman since these ads are placed directly with the publisher,
  2. Link equity: Yes, equity is built since publishers link directly to advertisers websites,
  3. SEM and SEO value is added since more organic results occur thanks to sponsored posts appearing in search results.

Google on the other hand sought to kill two birds with one stone:

  1. The rapid rise of outbrain and other competing solutions (also Linkedin sponsored content)
  2. The huge challenge posed by ad blocking (which is still not circumvented by matched content)
  3. To make il-informed marketers believe that buying into “matched content” IS native advertising.

Below is an example of how Outbrain has started to take significant pieces of online real estate away from Google, resulting in massive revenue losses for the ad giant: 

Advertisers should know that according to the definition and benefits we seek to obtain from native advertising, that “Outbrain” is not classed as a native advertising solution either. Here is Google’s eventual response to Outbrain:

From the advertisers’ perspective, it simply does not work that well:

The advertiser is still not bypassing ad blockers. It is not gaining any link equity because all links are diverted via Google doubleclick ad server. There is no control as to where your ads will be displayed and absolutely no direct relationship with any publishers. Is THIS what we’d like to call native advertising? NO. CMO’s should take note of this.

From the publishers’ perspective, consider the results: 

As you can see from the image above, other ad units have a CTR as high as 50%, whereas “matched content”, as the lowest of all. Note that during the A/B test process, ads were placed in the same position to make the results of the research objective and fair.

You probably would love to know what works best for your business, whether you are a publisher or advertiser?

Publishers seeking to learn more about exceptionally profitable digital publishing can find out more with this course.

Advertisers who would like to get on top of the game with Google Adwords and Bing Ads should look at this course. 

About Adriaan Brits

I'm Adriaan Brits, a digital and strategic marketing consultant, Linkedin learning instructor and media owner. I authored the popular Linkedin course "Digital Marketing Research" with more than 120 000 enrolments to date. You can see my boutique marketing consultancy at www.adriaanbrits.com and connect with me on Linkedin

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