Once you start working with natives, you will realize what a monster they are. Always hungry for bigger budgets and not easily tamed with tricks that worked for other formats, native ads also hide great potential yet to be discovered by the majority of affiliate marketers.

What separates them from the rest may be a budget - a bit bigger than others, need for ongoing optimization - an essential quality when working with natives, and good intuition.

The last one can be replaced with practice-based learning like the one you can get from this short guide.

What are native ads?

Native ads are contextual ads that try to mimic the surrounding content. They follow a completely different path than flashy banners or intrusive push ads. This puts the whole marketing perspective upside down and makes them either a dream come true or a nightmare for a marketer, depending on the strategy they use.

Why are natives the best/worst?

Natives require more of everything. More money, more testing, more rules. Most experienced affiliates will tell you it’s not a beginner’s game unless you are a person who likes to jump straight into the ocean to learn how to swim.

What makes natives unique are the following things:

  • Budget

There is no set amount of money that you have to spend on testing before your ROI becomes positive, however, obviously more is better. The cautious estimates put the lowest optimal budget to start working with natives around $5,000.

  • Offers

Native offers are usually high paying ones, meaning that every single conversion is more profitable but at the same time is harder to achieve, so thus you need more money to test several offers, hence the budget estimate from above.

  • Ads

Native ads try to blend in with the website content and follow the on-site user experience. Therefore, they require a cunning creative approach that will make these ads eye-catching enough to be clicked on, yet not too flashy to look out of place.

  • Funnel

Users don’t want to be advertised directly; you have to provide some entertaining content - tell stories, create some interactive quizzes, or maybe even both - and introduce your offer along the way. This means content, creatives, videos.

Why is tracker essential when working with natives?

Most trackers allow you to track all necessary KPIs, such as CPM, CPC, or CTR. The more advanced ones enable you to create alternative funnels and compare several landing pages or offers with ease.

Voluum not only allows this but also gives you the option to create logical rules that move native campaigns from the realms of wizardry to the domains of science.

Voluum offers you control and assistance on every step of your affiliate journey. Follow the tricks below to make the most out of your native campaigns on the MGID platform.

Step 1. Integrate your MGID and Voluum accounts

Voluum and MGID have a long-term partnership. Because of this, their accounts can be integrated on a much deeper level than with most trackers. This integration will not only allow you to synchronize costs accurately on all levels but also will give you control over your campaigns from Voluum, either from its dashboard or via the rules.

All you have to do is to follow the instructions as described in this guide and add MGID as a traffic source in Voluum.

Step 2. Create listicles aka Multistep funnels

Visitors of native ads have to be warmed up before pitching them an offer. One of the recommended methods of doing so is to create listicle landers, i.e. a funnel with two landers.

The first one, called a “prelander”, is an advertorial landing page that explains a general idea behind your offer without mentioning it specifically. This article then directs a visitor to the selling lander.

The second, that being a selling lander, would more closely resemble a traditional sales page that directs to an actual offer. With Voluum, you can even direct your visitors from one prelander to several different landers and track related metrics in reports.

Obviously, the use of listicles should be driven by business objectives and user response to different approaches, but it is highly recommended that you at least try and split-test this approach with a more traditional, direct campaign.

Step 3. Add more offers

Before you add offers in Voluum, set up an affiliate network you partner with. This will configure your postback URL and display the offer URL tokens for easy, error-free setup.

From this, you can then add as many offers as you want to Voluum (do note to forget to select the affiliate network that you have just added). Copy the postback URL available in an offer form in Voluum and submit it to your affiliate network.

Testing multiple offers and landers in Voluum is highly recommended; to do this, add a greater number of either or both offers and landers. Then you can use weights to distribute traffic between the offers.

Step 4. Launch campaigns

We highly recommend creating separate campaigns for various GEOs and device types. Doing so will make reporting clearer and easier to analyze.

Use the MGID traffic source, the offer of your choice, and landers or prelanders that you have added during the preceding steps.

Step 5. Test

Some things in your campaign will work and some will not. What you want to test are:

  • Approaches (direct or multistep funnels)
  • Ads (ad units on the MGID platform) and widgets
  • Landing pages
  • Offers

During the testing period, it is recommended to start with a lower budget and then increase it gradually. In many cases, it's better to start slow than to lose a lot of money because of a setup error or botched targeting. You can start with a $100 daily budget and increase it on the second day.

As a result, you need to have some statistical significance for each ad, landing page, or offer page to select the most efficient and cut down under-performers. It is hard to provide the exact numbers that you should follow, as it all depends on the traffic, ads, your budgets, and marketing techniques.

To assist you during this stage, Voluum developed advanced auto-optimization features and gives you the option to employ AI to handle the task of distributing traffic between multiple offers and landers in the most efficient way.

Step 6. Analyze

The results can be tracked in Voluum reports; create a report for your campaign and then group it per widget or ad to check their profitability.

There are some steps that could be followed or modified according to your needs:

  • Cut any ads or widgets that have spent more than 4 times the offer’s payout and brought no conversions
  • If an ad unit’s ROI is around 0%, try to bid down a bit and see if that helps or sends it in a downward spiral
  • If your average landing page CTR is decent (at least 30%), block any ads or clicks that have some visits but no clicks on the landing page. If your whole landing page CTR is low after you threw some traffic at it, block the whole page and try a new tactic.
  • With high CTR but a low conversion rate, try to switch offers. Maybe the landing page is not bad but simply not very-well connected with the offer.

Remember, metrics such as CTR or ROI are just here to help you track efficiency and spot the bottlenecks on your campaign; what is really important is pure profit. There are unfortunately no prizes for the highest CTR.

Step 7. Rules & alerts

In parallel with analysis reports, we highly recommend using Voluum rules to limit your unprofitable ad spend and squeeze the most juice out of your campaigns.

Go to the rules in Voluum Automizer and create rules that will notify you about important milestones or take action on your MGID campaign automatically.

Consider the following tips during this step:

  • Pause ad units with more than 10 visits and no conversions
  • Alert when an offer stopped bringing conversions in the last 12 hours
  • Pause a campaign which ROI dropped to -50% in the last hour

Step 8. Create blacklists and whitelists

Once your campaign starts getting some traction, some widgets might be more profitable than others. Native ads, more than other digital advertising formats, require an advertiser to aggressively cut down unprofitable widgets or ads.

The profitable widgets can be saved to a whitelist; it is nothing more than a simple text file with names of the widgets that brought you profit. The unprofitable ones can be cut off and added to the blacklist. No need to run new campaigns with stuff that’s been proven not to work.

Rules in Voluum can launch actions based on the lists you upload. You can create rules to block a widget if it is found in your blacklist.

Step 9. Create rule-based paths

The secret ingredient to success with natives is being able to identify patterns as your ads are put in rotation. At a certain point, you may notice that one of your offers converts better for a certain type of audience or a device type.

With Voluum, you can create rule-based paths that will direct visitors who meet these criteria to the selected offer, and the rest to another offer.

Step 10. Launch new campaigns and keep the old ones fresh

The final phase is accomplishing the same goals you were already achieving but on a larger scale. This includes running more campaigns, expanding your whitelists and blacklists, fine-tuning the rules, and so on.

The saying goes “Make new friends, but keep the old", and the same can be said about campaigns. If you have a budget for it, launch new campaigns with new offers and new targeting settings while at the same time keeping the old ones going. Refresh your ads every 3 - 4 days.

Natives are the beginning of your new life

Native ads are considered to be reserved for the most skilled and experienced marketers. No matter if you make it or quit, your affiliate career will be divided into the “before” and “after” moments.

There is a reason why no one starts with native ads. They are challenging and require a complete understanding of how everything works.

However, once you start getting a grasp of it and generate these $20, $30, or even $80 payouts per conversion, you will taste the sweetness of success.

It tastes awesome. And even better with Voluum.