14 Keys to Writing Native Ad Copy and Content That Sells

May 7, 2018 Carol Forden

Native ads have a single purpose: getting a specific action from the reader.

This could be donating to a charity, downloading a PDF, subscribing to an email newsletter, visiting a landing page or website, or buy a product.

The test of an effective advertorial or native ad is, does it grip the reader and lead them in precise language, to what to do next. This is the call to action.

Sponsored content allows auto dealerships to engage consumers with educational and meaningful content to aid in the decision-making process.

It provides a level of depth and detail that standard pay per click (PPC, search, and banner) ad units are not capable of.

Native advertorials are available in several formats; they can be:

  • Listicles or guides
  • Videos or print articles
  • From one page or six

Indifferent to the form or medium, they must tell a story.

For example, in a recent J.D. Power study, new-vehicle owners were asked to list the reasons they chose the particular make and model vehicle they purchased.

Out of 10 factors, the most frequent reason cited was, “like the image the vehicle portrays.”

So what if an automotive brand doesn’t portray the image it wants?

This is where content marketing combined with native advertising can help.

As you are starting to see, there are so many similarities between the essential ingredients of a blog post and writing an effective native ad that sells.

Regardless of the content or copy you are writing is for a blog or a native ad or landing page, there are basics that you must adhere to.

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. -David Ogilvy

Being clever doesn’t and won’t sell products and services.

Original thinking in marketing is essential, but not for the sake of being witty or clever.

You need to be thinking about connecting with your target audience, gaining and building trust, selling your products or services when you sit down to write marketing copy.  If you are not, you need to reexamine your motivations and priorities.

The goal of great content and copy isn’t to create content for the sake of being clever.  Your goal is to create content that is helpful, insightful, educational or interesting for your target audience.

Here are the necessary steps for writing native ads and copy that work — in other words, that sells.

Know and study the publication

Your native ad will sit in a context, on a website.

You must study, understand and master that context.

  • The traditional design conventions such as the page layout, typography, and column choice
  • The editorial conventions from headlines, blurbs, and bylines

Most importantly, you must understand the publication’s audience.

Study the headlines

Understand the headline style, then match it.

Are the headlines news fragments like Time’s “Court Sentences Berlusconi to Community Service” … or is an analytical format using complete sentences like Global Citizen’s “This New Map Shows You How Many Years of Life Pollution Has Taken Away.”

Are they loose and clickbait like BuzzStream … or brief and compressed like the BBC?

Study the opening

The first several sentences of multiple articles pay attention to. You need to understand how the publication and articles pull readers into their stories.

Start by studying the most sites popular articles and these elements:

  • How do they open?  By introducing a character?
  • What is the depth of the description? Do they go in-depth or stay shallow?
  • Do they describe a location, if so how and into what detail do they go?
  • What senses do they employ? Is it sight, touch, sound?
  • Are the opening sentences short and punchy, or long and detailed?

Study the body

Does the publication use uniform blocks of text like the New York Times or Atlantic?  Or irregular rows of dialog like Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report?

Is the language refined and scientific like Journal of Pediatric Medicine or simple like BuzzFeed?

Do they prefer longer articles or shorter ones?

Your native ad content needs to match the elements of the website identically.

Study the audience

Who is the audience?

Most critical: What do they want? Why do they read this publication?

  • Review the publication advertising kits for the demographic and psychographic report on their readers
  • Review the comments and letters to the editor sections
  • Exchange emails or comments with a few readers

Create a story

14 Keys to Writing Native Ad Copy and Content That SellsView your native ad content like you are a journalist. Collect your facts and stats. Compile your quotes.

Introduce the character. Describe their life. Introduce conflict and the problem they are facing.

Every good story has a plot with twists and turns that engage the reader.

Use your storytelling skills.

Identify the reader’s pain point

What is one thing the typical reader is suffering from?

What keeps them up at night? What is their biggest problem they need to solve?

What one emotion do you want to bring out in that ideal reader?

Agitate the pain

In a good story, you introduce the character. You introduce their normal, everyday life. Then you disturb the hell out of that routine, so they fall apart.

  • He’ll keep driving his 12 year old car that needs new tires until his son graduates from college.
  • He thought everything was fine until his dribving on 95, he blew a tire and rolled his car
  • He though everything was fine, until his wife walked out on him for another man.

Your reader should relate to the story.

Introduce the enemy

What or who is the cause of all this pain, emotional or physical or delayed desires fulfilled?

  • Is it the government, who wants to take and waste all your hard earned income?
  • Is it a big brand, who lied to you about how its products are made and would perform?
  • Is it the weird neighbor, who disturbs the serenity of your weekends?
  • Is it the guy who sits in the desk next to you who manages to afford the hottest cars on a salary that is equal to yours?

Agitate the readers, so they rally around an enemy they they will love to hate and will listen to you.

Introduce the solution

Once the reader is in distraught, bring out the solution, which is your product or service.

Demonstrate how your service department can set up a schedule with reminders to service their car to prevent unnecessary breakdowns or how a lease can allow them to afford a new car while their child is attending college.   That he can afford that hot sports car while raising kids and paying a mortgage.

These are the benefits of your product or solution. The significant advantages that make their problem go away.

Support your bold claims

14 Keys to Writing Native Ad Copy and Content That SellsYour story will front as a claim. If possible, use a true story, about a real person or situation.

  • A father driving a 15-year-old car, with kids in college who never thought he would drive a new car again.  How you were able to get him into his dream car with a lease at the cost of the maintenance and gas, he was paying for his old car.
  • A family who had neglected maintenance on their five-year-old car, who used a coupon for a discounted oil change and how you discovered that they needed a brake job and by preforming basic maintenance you saved them over $1,000 by not having to replace the disc brakes and drums.

You must substantiate any claim you make about your product or service with facts, test results, and statistics. Go into depth and pour this information on.

You must create the feeling that there is not another product on the planet that can offer the benefits that your business and products or services provides.

End with happiness

This is not a black comedy and you are not trying to win a Plutizer Prize.

Be creative, yes, but end the story with a happy ending, evil gets defeated, decency and good prevails, the enemy is eliminated, with normall life restored.

Add a call to action

If you’ve done your job and your story is backed up with data and your claims are supported, the reader will be looking for a way to contact you. They will want to buy your product or service, to hire you.

Tell them, specifically, what action steps to take:

  • serviceHow to subscribe
  • How to download the ebook
  • How to buy your service or product

Most of all, you need to be very specific. Assume nothing and leave nothing to chance.

Wrapping It Up

A good native advertorial or native ad is about the reader or viewer. They should picture themselves in your ad.

And the ultimate goal of a good native ad or native advertorial is that if you removed the “Advertisement” or “Sponsored Content” label, the brand name, and the call to action, then the content would blend into the publication.

If you are still wondering if native advertising is right for you, read why you need to be adding it to your marketing mix here.

What’s next?

The elephant in the room with native ads is the way they blends into its editorial context. You have to focus on storytelling and fitting your content to the publication.

Over to you

Are you ready to add native ads into your marketing mix?  If so, lets talk