Native Advertising: How to Create the Right Program For Your Niche

Native advertising is a prime revenue opportunity for niche publishers, and shows significant growth every year. According to eMarketer, Native now makes up more than 50% of digital ad spending. And Business Insider has predicted that by 2021, 74% of all ads in the US market will be native.

Not only is native a better alternative to banner and display ads, but native ads provide an “ad blocker-free” solution for a less disruptive reader experience. The challenge, then, is to create the right native advertising program for your niche. We asked two of our digital experts to weigh in on creating a successful native advertising program:

How do you measure ROI with native advertising? What are some good guidelines publishers should follow?

Andrew HannellyAndrew Hanelly, Creative Director and Partner at Revmade:

“Marketers need to generate awareness, engagement, leads and sales. But when dealing with publishers, they tend to only focus on click-through rates and impressions. Native advertising should never be sold simply as a distribution option. It should – like any content marketing strategy – start with a measurable outcome as an objective and then the strategy should be built on serving that objective. 

For guidelines, we help publishers develop If/Then scenario tables that help to frame the conversation with their advertiser. The publisher then recommends a certain approach designed to achieve that specific outcome. For instance, if they are after leads, a series of educational webinars might be right. If they are after brand reputation improvement, a thought leadership content series with audience opinions surveys before and after the series might be best.

We encourage each publisher to evaluate honestly their own strengths and the dynamics of the relationship they have with their audience. Then they can develop packaged approaches for how to achieve an advertiser’s given goal.”

If you’re having trouble coming up with the right native ad program, consider a structure that offers different production capabilities and price points.

Rob O’Regan, Director of Content Marketing Strategy with global tech publisher IDG:

“1) Bronze: At this basic level, the publisher serves primarily as a distribution channel for advertiser-supplied content. The advertiser benefits by having their content integrated within the editorial flow of your website. In addition to hosting the content, you can offer add-on services that help the content get noticed. These services include creation of A/B headlines for search engine optimization, or social copy to help the advertiser promote the copy via social media.

2) Silver: When an advertiser wants to be associated with editorial content but doesn’t have the resources or expertise to write their own blog posts or articles, you can outsource the writing. The publisher provides full content creation, hosting, and promotion. The articles or posts appear under the writer’s byline, and remain independent – i.e., not tied specifically to the advertiser’s messaging. The advertiser benefits by sponsoring credible content that builds awareness and trust among the audience they are targeting through your publication. An added benefit to the advertiser: If the writer is well-known in your market and has a strong social media following, they will draw more attention to the article.

3) Gold: This premium-level offering involves true custom content, written by the publisher to reflect the point of view of the advertiser. Articles or posts are ghostwritten and appear under the advertiser’s byline, often one of the company’s executives. The ghostwriter, supplied by the publisher, works closely with the advertiser to understand their perspective and reflect their “voice”.”

The conclusion is native advertising works–so much more than the old advertorial model. Results show native ads are viewed and clicked more, which makes them a win-win-win– for publishers, advertisers and their customers.


Note: The above excerpts are an updated version of the published original.

Deep dive into native advertising selling strategy at the upcoming Niche Goes Native (Advertising) Workshop at Super Niche! (March 5-7, 2018 in Louisville, KY)


More about Andrew:  After spending time on both the publisher and agency side of the media business, Andrew now has his dream role which straddles both. He is Creative Director and partner at, which helps publishers generate revenue and helps brands develop audiences. Andrew got his first taste of the niche media world at Active Interest Media, helping to translate print success to digital prowess across the organization. He then spent nearly a decade at a content marketing agency as SVP Strategy.

More about Rob: Rob O’Regan is director of content marketing strategy with global tech publisher IDG. You can read more of his musings here or follow him on Twitter (@roboregan).


Niche Media has the best events, education, and training in media! Our super niched-out events & content give target-audience publishers in the B2C, hobbyist, B2B, city & regional, and association markets the tools they need to build revenue, audience, and more.