In a recent post, we talked about how a publisher's strategy for native advertising (aka sponsored content) must include a mobile-friendly approach. Recent studies support this notion. Consider that:

  • 97% of mobile media buyers say that native ads are effective at achieving their branding goals.
  • Budgets for native ads and mobile continue to rise - in some cases, exponentially.
  • Mobile banner ads have never quite made the grade - often poorly designed and generating unreliable clicks.
  • Mobile traffic is bringing an increasing share - nearly 40% on average - of total visitors to BtoB websites.

The question is not whether to go mobile with your native ad offerings; it’s how you do that successfully. Let’s look at a few tactics that add up to a sound approach for you and advertisers on your site:


1)   Keep it Simple. Surely this applies to any mobile endeavor, but it is particularly relevant for native ads. Focus on 1 idea. Use 1 striking image (or video). The idea is to grab the audience, hold their focus and use a call to action to get them to do the 1 thing you want them to do.

2)   Think Mobile First. Make sure your audience can navigate an ad on their mobile device intuitively.  First, make sure any image you use is sized for mobile viewing.  Then capitalize on features that are already built into mobile devices. Make it super easy for them to execute calls to action.

3)   Make it Social. According to Pew Research, 74% of adults are using social networking sites and 40% of those folks access them from mobile phones. It only makes sense to keep social behavior and preferences in mind when employing native mobile ads.

4)   Make it Shareable. One way to expand on the social card is by creating incentives to share. Offer something of value in your ads that will motivate people to share: discounts, contests, coupons, etc.

5)   Be Consistent (but not rigid) with Your Brand. Of course the mobile ads you offer need to represent the advertiser, but they must also evoke your brand. Why? People are on your site for the knowledge it offers. Anything that takes readers out of that experience risks disengagement with ad and site alike. But, pushing the envelope a little never hurts either. Walk the line.

6)   Test and Retest. Mobile native content must be seamless, not sassy. Meaning, the message must offer a cool interaction without glitches or disruptive features that take the audience away from the experience or too far the “flavor” they seek. Take the time to test that out.

7)   Do Your Homework. This is about knowing your audience, but equally important, knowing what works for mobile native ads, too. Luckily, the data is out there. Consider the mamas. Sure, mothers may not be your target audience, but they are a large part of the population who engage with native ads and purchase on their mobile devices. Take the time to learn what works across markets and figure out how to apply that knowledge to your own target audience.

8)   Track It. Use your analytics and present relevant data to your advertisers about engagement and sharing. Then use that data for your own ad and content targeting.

9)   Stop Tooting Your Horn. The best native ads (mobile or not) offer something of use without talking about why the company making the offering is so great. Be helpful. Be engaging. Be relevant. They will want to know who is behind the ad and will be able to find out, without you blatantly telling them.

Take some time to institute (or revisit) these tactics and you'll begin to see your ROI on mobile native ads add up.