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Native Advertising: An Introduction for PPC Marketers

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Consumer priorities are shifting rapidly as the world faces an unprecedented healthcare crisis.

Sensitivity to consumers’ needs is more critical than ever.

Brands must think carefully about how to engage with consumers in meaningful ways that not only increase conversions but help build brand trust.

Throughout the day, we consume content from blogs, news channels, television shows, social media channels, etc.

All of that content has the potential for native ad placements, which is why the native industry can be complex.

Advertisers know that in order to reach their target customers, they need to have a presence on channels where consumers spend their time.

This is where native comes into play.

Native advertising has been around for about a decade, but through the use of AI and machine learning to power its audience-first targeting, it’s more powerful and effective than ever.

According to an IPG Media Lab study, 71% of consumers say they personally identify with a brand after viewing its native ads.

Is Content Network Targeting the Same as Native?

In short, no.

The content networks or yore through Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads was contextual targeting at its simplest – it predominately was keyword-based targeting on a syndicated network of content that allowed text ads to appear near various types of content such as text, videos, images.

The impression volumes were high and the click-through rates were low and the conversion rates were dismal.

But for most the goal of the content network was never last-click attribution – it was to drive reach and awareness (at first.)

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But native today isn’t the contextual targeting of yore.

Microsoft deprecated the content network in 2017.

However, Google Ads still allows content targeting in the Google Display network.

Unlike the content network, native ad placements are not based on the keyword or the keywords within the article on page, they are based on audience targeting.

It is worth noting that Google Ads still allows content targeting in the Google Display Network based on:

  • Topics: Pages about specific topics. Google Ads uses factors such as text, language, links and page structure to determine the topics of a page.
  • Placement: Specific websites, or subsets of a website.
  • Keywords: Just that, keywords.
  • Display expansion for search: A combination of automated bidding and smart targeting.

” alt=”Google Search Targeting including Search and Display options” width=”1272″ height=”566″ data-src=”https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/google-network-targeting-today-5e83835ab701b.png” data-=”” />

What Is Native Advertising?

According to the Native Advertising Institute, native advertising is paid advertising that matches the form, feel, and function of the content media and platform upon which it appears.

The publisher controls and is responsible for rendering the ad.

Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads; rather, they look like part of the editorial flow of the webpage.

For example, a native ad might show up within an article you’re reading on your favorite online news source, or as a post on your Facebook feed.

Native ads are intentionally non-disruptive and more contextual than display or banner ads.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), there are six types of native advertising:

  • Paid search ads appear at the top of — and look like part of — your Google search results.
  • In-feed placements appear directly in the article or blog post.
  • Recommendation widgets appear on a publisher’s website and presents recommended content or products that are related to the content you’re already consuming.
  • In-Ad with native elements look like typical ads but they are contextually relevant to the site on which they appear or the content you’re consuming.
  • Custom ads can appear within your app interface, such as a new filter in Snapchat.
  • Promoted listings, also referred sometimes as sponsored content, are designed to fit seamlessly into the browsing experience.

Sharethrough reports that native ads receive 53% more views than traditional display ads and increase purchase intent by 18%.

It’s no wonder two-thirds of all display spend ($44 billion) was spent on native advertising in the U.S. in 2019 and accounted for 61% of total digital display ad spending.

Is Native Advertising Programmatic?

It depends. (A marketer’s favorite answer.)

Programmatic is an automated way to buy the advertising placements.

Programmatic marketing uses real-time systems, rules, and algorithms to automate either targeted placements and/or creative experiences (ads themselves.)

Programmatic native ads add more power by leveraging machine learning and contextual signals to customize the ads by placing them at the appropriate place to reach the right audience and the audience preference.

Not all native advertising is programmatic.

Is Google Display Native Advertising?

Yes, Google Display & Video 360 has native creative formats that can be integrated into a display campaign.

The native creative can target:

  • App install (Google Play or Apple App Store).
  • Site creative (square or rectangular display format).
  • Video (similar to site creative, but uses video instead of an image.)

The native creative is based on a bundle of assets and can include the following components: an image or video, headline, body text, call to action, logo or advertiser name.

” alt=”Examples of Google Display & Video 360 native ads ” width=”600″ height=”255″ data-src=”https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/googledisplay-video360-example-5e8383aec78c5.png” data-=”” />

Is Microsoft Advertising Native Advertising?

Yes, Microsoft Advertising has native ads through the Microsoft Audience network.

It is a programmatic native ads platform that pulls in audience data and intent signals from the Microsoft Advertising Graph to determine optimal placements at scale.

” alt=”Visual examples of Microsoft Audience network placements for image ads, text ads, and product ads across the audience network.” width=”936″ height=”661″ data-src=”https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/microsoftaudienceads-examples-5e838860b338a.png” data-=”” />

Currently, Microsoft Audience Ads are available in three formats:

  • Image ads.
  • Text Ads.
  • Product Ads.

They can be set up as part of an existing search campaign that is extended to native or as a separate audience campaign.

Even if you choose to opt into the Microsoft Audience network from within your search campaigns, the ad placement is based on audience targeting using the Microsoft Graph.

The Microsoft Advertising Graph captures billions of signals across our consumer products, such as browsing data, search history and behavior, and deep profile data from LinkedIn.

Microsoft’s audience network spans:

  • A wide range of brand-safe environments, including MSN, Outlook.com, and Microsoft Edge.
  • Select premium partner properties such as CBS Sports, Everyday Health, Fox Business, the Atlantic, Apartment Therapy, and Reuters.

According to ComScore, the Microsoft Audience Network reaches 92% of the online audience throughout the U.S.

AI-Powered Placements Focused on Quality & Giving Complete Control to the Advertiser

The audience network was created with two priorities in mind: quality and control.

  • Quality results from high-quality placements of highly relevant ads.
  • Control encompasses its ability to provide brand-safe environments and data privacy.

Microsoft enforces strict publisher standards and reviews and publisher partners are closely managed and thoroughly vetted.

There is an ongoing ad placement quality monitoring and controls to help you manage where your ads appear, as well.

Global blocklists and the ability to exclude certain sites gives you even more control – and peace of mind.

The Success of Native Advertising Depends on Trust

Native advertising has grown in popularity because of success with engaging audiences and their ability to connect brands to consumers effectively.

However, when consumers don’t trust a brand, native ads lose their effectiveness.

Likewise, marketers also believe that they need to trust the distribution channels and environments their ads appear.

eMarketer’s 2018 study, The Brand Saftey Dilemma, found that 57.5% of more than 100 CMOs surveyed stated that they will focus their future advertising spendings on whether a distribution channel can provide secure environments.

How do organizations establish and maintain consumer trust?

By putting long-term strategies in place for actively engaging with consumers, listening and acting on customer feedback, adhering to data privacy and protection, and being transparent and authentic.

iProspect proposes that there are three key components to consumer trust: credibility, relevance, and reliability.

  • Is your brand competent and legitimate?
  • Do you listen to and act on customer feedback and provide relevant content, products, and services?
  • Do you deliver a consistent experience that meets customer expectations across every customer interaction?

Brands that can answer yes to these questions are earning consumer trust, and native advertising done well can reinforce this effort by helping them deliver credible, relevant and consistent messaging.

With many available offerings, it’s critical to choose the right advertising partner – one that will enable you to get the best return on your investment.

Native Case Studies: Reaching Untapped Audiences

By applying advanced AI algorithms to this set of user attributes, Microsoft can determine when and on what platforms to reach users with highly relevant content, without damaging the trust those users have in your brand.

Ads are credible, relevant and consistent – but not invasive or intrusive.

As a result, click-through rates on the Microsoft Audience Network are consistently higher than on other native platforms delivering ads on those same properties.

For example, based on partner and internal data, click-through rates are consistently higher than other native platforms that are delivering ads across the same properties:

  • 2X higher on MSN Infopane.
  • 1.2X higher on Outlook.com.
  • 3X higher on publisher partner sites.

Driving Awareness & Leads Across Volvo’s Funnel

Volvo and marketing agency Mindshare decided to test the Microsoft Audience network as a strategy to support awareness and help maintain sales for their best-seller the XC90 luxury SUV.

Mindshare used audience campaigns to scale their marketing efforts, keeping the ads visually consistent with their social media efforts and using streamlined ad copy to reach their target audiences.

They combined LinkedIn, gender, remarketing and In-Market audience data to find new audiences to target and to uncover previously untapped audiences.

The campaign drove significant traffic and exceeded their expectations with conversions:

  • 65,000 incremental site visits.
  • 83% increase in clicks from remarketing.
  • CPA on-par with their non-brand search campaigns.

Buyzone Driving Leads & Reaching Untapped B2B Audiences

Running native campaigns in conjunction with search campaigns helped Buyerzone reach business-to-business audience.

Buyerzone connects buyers with sellers in real-time. Like many lead generation companies, they were looking for conversions they can monetize into leads that can then be sold to a seller.

They needed native to be a cost effective buy that would not only drive leads, but leads that convereted for their sellers.

Buyerzone was a beta-tester of native ads through the Microsoft Audience network and saw:

  • 1,700% increase in impressions.
  • 20% profit increase on top of their traditional search campaigns.
  • 75% decrease in CPC.

Alan Barish, senior online marketing analyst from BuyerZone said, “almost every single conversion we’ve gotten from the Microsoft Audience Network has converted into a lead, which is amazing.”

Native combined with search can help advertisers reach new audiences across the funnel to help drive growth that is incremental to their existing search campaigns.

Maintaining Trust & Engagement in Uncertain Times

Never in modern history has it been so critical to create meaningful connections between your brand and consumers, and earn and maintain their trust.

With data privacy rising to the forefront of consumers’ consciousness and as recent global events add complexity to the consumer-brand dynamic, delivering targeted, trusted and relevant content is a critical strategy for continued business growth.

Be thoughtful with your images and your copy during these challenging times so that your native ads don’t come across as tone-deaf.

Start with a foundation of trust, success is inevitable.

Test using native as a way for your brand to make meaningful connections with consumers that build trust and drive conversions, setting the stage for ongoing credibility, relevance, and consistency, even in uncertain times.

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Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, March 2020

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

12 billion, 3 billion, 1 billion. That’s the number of searches made in some of the top alternative search engines monthly.

While Google still holds more than 80% of the market share, ignoring search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo can make you lose out on relevant traffic. So don’t limit yourself to Google’s algorithm as you plan the next year’s SEO strategy.

In order to grow in the digital economy, we have to diversify our efforts. What better way to do that than by making sure that you rank on all the top search engines relevant for your audience?

Generally, there’s two reasons why your audience would choose an alternative search engine over Google: geopolitical reasons and/or privacy concerns.

As such, I’ve categorized the search engines below by global market share and by data privacy.

Top alternative search engines by global market share

When analyzing the global desktop market share of search engines throughout the last decade, there are a few small but mighty search engines that stand out. These are:

1) Bing

2) Yahoo

3) Yandex

4) DuckDuckGo

5) Baidu

These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.

Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.

Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.

Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Bing and Yahoo

Screenshot of bing.com, November 2022

Since 2018, Yahoo is exclusively powered by Bing Search. So as long as you rank in Bing, you’ll rank in Yahoo.

Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.

Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.

Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.

If we look at the United States alone, Microsoft sites own over 18% of the market share.

This is much due to their partnership with Amazon, where all voice-activated searches on Amazon Echo and Alexa are made with Bing Search.

Microsoft also pushes Bing further by offering easy rewards for searches and more advanced image search capabilities than Google.

Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.

To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:

Infographic by AS Marketing, December 2022


1. List your business on Bing Places

Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.

2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools

While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.

3. Match keywords in your content

Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.

4. Keep your social media profiles up to date

Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.

5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content

Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.

Yandex

Screenshot of yandex.com, November 2022

Second to Bing is Yandex, having a total of 1.5% of the market share in global desktop search.

While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.

Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.

While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:

1. Focus on tags over internal site structure

According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.

2. Consider search intent to rank

Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.

3. Eliminate toxic links

Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.

Baidu

Screenshot of baidu.com, November 2022

With over 3 billion searches daily, Baidu is the Google of China. If you want to do business in China, it’s the place to be.

While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.

Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.

1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately

As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.

2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page

Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.

3. Obtain a verification level and get certified

By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.

Top alternative search engines by data privacy

While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.

On a macro scale, the European Union continues to protect data privacy with strict GDPR regulations and the California Consumer Privacy Act indicates similar trends for Americans.

From a micro perspective, documentaries such as The Great Hack shine a light on how global companies monetize on personal data. As a result, privacy-safe search engines continue to rise.

If you’re working for an innovative SaaS startup, there’s a high chance your ideal customer persona is using one of these search engines.

Let’s go through how you rank on DuckDuckGo and two alternative equivalents.

DuckDuckGo

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

DuckDuckGo aims to make your search experience as simple and true to its cause as possible, i.e. no tracking for personalized search results and filter bubbles. Instead it uses semantic search to determine search intent for your queries from over 400 sources.

Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.

Here’s how to optimize for it:

1. Sharpen Your User Experience

UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.

2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks

As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.

3. Rethink Local SEO

Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.

Startpage

Screenshot of startpage.com, November 2022

Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.

And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.

So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.

SwissCows

Screenshot of swisscows.com, November 2022

There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.

This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.

SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.

What do they all have in common?

In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.

But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.

Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.

And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.

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Master the CX trifecta: Data, content and tech

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Shutterstock 2227781509 800x450

Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, businesses worldwide face lots of uncertainty.

One thing will remain constant throughout this period — customers expect excellent experiences when interacting with a brand. According to Acquia’s latest CX Report, businesses plan to prioritize customer retention over the next 12 months: 56% plan to improve customer experience, and 58% will focus more on customer service.

This should be a common goal. To weather a potential storm, businesses must keep customers by meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

Register today for “Master the CX Trifecta in 2023: Data, Content & Tech,” presented by Acquia,  and create the foundation for CX success this year and beyond.


Click here to view more MarTech webinars.


About the author

Cynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for CNBC.com and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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