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15 Hacks to Drive Performance

Video Summary

Native advertising fuses your promotions with editorial content published on other sites, help you get the words out and leads in. But the number of 360 tech solutions to choose from is huge, including spy tools, distribution networks, ad servers, optimization tools and more. This session drills down into three must-have tools in the stack including Taboola, Outbrain and Sharaholic, showcasing how to can put the power of these tools to work in powerful ways.


Chad Pollitt, a decorated Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former US Army Commander, is the Co-founder of Relevance, the world's first and only website dedicated to content promotion, news and insights.

He’s also an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and Adjunct Instructor of Content Marketing at the Rutgers Business School. Chad is a member of the Advisory Board for native advertising platforms, inPowered and AdHive.

A member of a Forbes Top 100 list, Chad authored "The Native Advertising Manifesto," "The Content Promotion Manifesto" and "51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing." He is a regular contributor to industry media outlets, including the Huffington Post, Guardian and Social Media Today.

Chad has been creating profitable online campaigns for over 16 years for some of the world's most recognizable brands, while delivering tens of millions of dollars of tracked return. Over the last ten years has delivered over 100,000 leads and 24,000 marketing qualified leads. Named a top five content marketing thought leader and top 20 CMO influencer, he continues to innovate by leading the emerging industry of online content promotion and distribution.

Since early 2002, Chad has played an integral role in designing, developing, deploying, executing and tracking robust web marketing strategies for client companies and organizations and is an Internet marketing expert. He holds a BS in Entrepreneurship from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and an Internet Marketing Masters Certification from the University of San Francisco's prestigious School of Business and Management.

Chad is available for speaking, training, agency partnerships and consulting on web topics to include inbound marketing, native advertising, SEO, SEM, content marketing, content promotion, affiliate marketing, PPC, conversion testing, social media marketing and many, many others.

What you will learn?

  • Understanding native advertising
  • The four categories of native advertising
  • The difference or influence advertising and influencer marketing


This is one of my favorite conferences in the entire world. I love this conference because it’s so much fun and everybody is approachable, and all the vendors are cool and they’re not pushing stuff on you necessarily. But seriously, this is one of my favorite events to do and I’m so glad you guys came and I’m so glad you guys are in my session.

[00:00:40] Now, somehow there was a mistake made in the title of my presentation. So, I apologize upfront. That’s not your fault. However, I will be talking about some actionable things that you can take back with you, with your native advertising. Okay. So, who am I? My name is Chad Pollitt and I am the Co-founder of Relevance.

[00:01:06] That’s my Twitter handle, but I have an announcement to make today.  Last week, I accepted the VP of Marketing role for a native advertising tech company called Empowered out of San Francisco. So, I am diving really deep on the technical side of native advertising. When I’m not doing that, I teach Digital Marketing at Indiana University and Content Marketing for Rutgers University.

[00:01:36] If any of you are interested in doing an online program with Rutgers taught by myself, Ian Cleary, and Mark Schaefer, just do a search for content marketing and Rutgers. The 17th is when the next class starts and if you want to do it, use the code grow, to get ten percent off. Okay grow.

[00:02:06] All right. So, what are we going to talk about today?  So, after serving 10 and a half years in the army, I’m a K.I.S.S. guy – Keep it simple stupid. And I’ve only got four things we’re going to talk about today.

[00:02:25] So let’s first talk about content distribution and native advertising. I’m just going to let that sit for a little bit. Look at this. How many blog posts written today? This is a problem folks. I’ve been in this business for 17 years and for most of that 17 years, you could literally build it and they would come. Literally build it and they would come. Google, the other search engines and social media took care of all your promotion and distribution for you organically.

[00:03:15] In fact, I used to brag. If it wasn’t one of the four P’s – pills, porn, poker and payday loans, I could make it rank. You didn’t know the four Ps, did you? Yeah, I don’t touch those. Okay.  Now there’s a lot going on, on this but let me orient you to what’s going on? So, this is a representation of the internet last decade and we’ve got average domain authority in blue. We’ve got industry content surpluses in orange meaning when you have more content surplus than you have domain authority, that means there’s more content on the internet than people looking for that content to solve their problems. That’s what that means. And last decade there was not a terrible amount of companies that existed in this realm.  But let’s fast-forward to this decade.  Now I’m being generous by saying this many Industries have inbound opportunity with no outbound supplementation.

[00:04:34] The reason I’m being generous is because I’m not good enough with PowerPoint to make this smaller. But if any of you have been in this business for a while you’ve seen this happen. Mark Schaefer calls it content shock. I call it to simply a content surplus. But this is what we face today as online marketers, as content marketers. We no longer can rely 100% on just inbound opportunity unless you’re a snail farmer.

[00:05:14] Do we have any snail farmers in the room? I didn’t think so. For the rest of us, we’re over here. Meaning that the domain authority is less in our industry than the content surplus.

[00:05:34] All right, so native advertising. It used to be that what people cared about was display advertising. Well display advertising doesn’t work very well anymore, does it?  You’re more likely to survive a plane crash then click on a banner ad. Do we have any Navy Seals in here? You’re more likely to finish Navy Seal training than click on a banner ad.

[00:06:06] And with the explosion of content marketing, native advertising was born.  And I predict it will surpass display advertising soon.  And I’ll show you why.  What else?  Well, there’s a lot of confusion around native advertising. So, let’s clear it up. What is native advertising? Native advertising is paid media that matches the form, feel and function of the organic media in which it surrounds.

[00:06:47] This could be a lot of stuff and I’ll show you lots of examples. Some of you may have seen a sponsored unit like this somewhere on the web. You can see it matches the form, feel and function of the organic media that surrounds it, the owned media. From dig, that’s an example. Here’s another example. Right here and Women’s Health sponsored.  A brand had the opportunity to put their content in front of the Woman’s Health audience and that is native advertising. What else? Hmm this is a full-on article written for CDW. Well, yes, it’s a full article, but it still matches the form, feel, and function of the organic media that surrounds it. So, I showed you a small example and I showed you a long form example, they’re both native advertising.

[00:07:55] Here’s another example. The Wall Street Journal Mercedes-Benz, this is a full article. Generally speaking, native advertising tends to be more top of the funnel content distribution. Now, there are some exceptions and I’ll talk about those too. Okay, so in the grand scheme of things owned, earned and paid media, native advertising sits squarely in the paid media bucket.

[00:08:26] Okay, it’s paid. This is what brands are going to be spending on this stuff by 2020. That’s huge. You know who the second-fastest advertiser and growth is in the last year? It’s Amazon, ads on Amazon are native. The products you see sponsored on Amazon is native.  Amazon’s helping drive a lot of this, but so is Facebook.

[00:09:11] In fact, I’ve read that up to 60% of this by 2020 will be Facebook because those ads in your stream, in your feed they match the form, feel, and function of the organic media, which surrounds it. That’s what makes it native.

[00:09:33] Now, if you’ve ever seen me speak before, you’ve probably seen the slide.  On average for every $1.00 spent on creation, television ad executives spent $5.00 on distribution. Guess what the average content marketer spends? Take a guess. All right. You took too long, opposite. The average content marketer spends $5.00 on creation, for every $1.00 they spend on distribution, what’s wrong with that picture?

[00:10:13] Because a lot of us still think you can build it and they will come.  And in our industries today, it’s highly unlikely that you can rely on inbound marketing alone. Okay, So, we need to start thinking like television advertising executives and native advertising is the tool to let us get the distribution that we need.

[00:10:39] So, in 2017 I set off on an ambitious project to catalog the entire native advertising technology landscape and as you can see, it was pretty robust. Well, I just finished this year’s research and study and published it. Here’s what it looks like today.

[00:11:11] All of these vendors provide for or support native advertising from a technology perspective. Here’s what it looks like juxtaposed it’s almost a 50% year-over-year increase in technology for native advertising. Went from 272 to 402 vendors.  And I can also tell you that at the end of Q1 this growth rate of 48% was the same.  So, it’s still growing at this speed.

[00:11:53] Now there’s a lot going on here, but we’re going to break this down and I’m going to teach you about each section of this native advertising landscape. Now, I know what you’re thinking, damn you Chad I need a drink now. Well, that’s fine. You can go get a drink but get me one too. But I’m here to help you and to walk through this together.

[00:12:23] All right types of native advertising. With the show of hands, who knows who the IAB is? Okay, a couple. The Interactive Advertising Bureau. They’re sort of like the governing body of online advertising. They do a lot of research and things like that, but what they came up with was this categorization of different types of native advertising. And I can tell you that this is crap.  I say it again, this is crap. Guess how they made this? Guess who gives them the most money? Guess who gives them the second most money? Third most money? Fourth most money? Fifth most money? Not much money? So, this is crap.

[00:13:30] There’s four categories of native advertising that you need to know, four.  Long form native advertising, this is a full-on article by Crate & Barrel. Don’t kill my vibe, dude. Long-form native advertising. What else? Many of you have seen programmatic native advertising. Those are those units that generally recommend content for you to consume. That’s the second category.

[00:14:04] Third category, non-programmatic. So, non-programmatic means it’s not run by AI or machine learning it’s done by hand. Okay. So, the example I give here is analog versus Pandora, which is algorithmic driven, if you’ve ever listened to Pandora. And finally, I took social media and put it in its own bucket.

[00:14:34] These are the four categories of native advertising. Don’t listen to the IAB’s categories.  It’s all done to make certain companies happy. But this keeps it simple. I told you I’m a kiss kind of guy, keep it simple stupid and this is simple. What else? Well, let’s breakdown the landscape. But before we do, I want to talk to you about the methodology of the categories.

[00:15:06] The categories are either a content type and you can see here some examples, a channel, more examples measurement or intelligence and what I call enablement, right here.  Okay, so, these are what we call SSPs or Supply Side Partners. So, these companies are the actual networks themselves that they built so you might be familiar with Out Brain or Tabula or even Gravity, okay? These are all self-contained networks that you can go and do native advertising on.

[00:15:58] Now these are the same thing, but their mobile only.  Mobile only. You can see we had almost 30% growth in that category.  What else? Okay, these are DSPs or demand-side platforms. And I’m going to show you how those work here in a second.  And then these are just the mobile only version of these. Now these do both mobile and non-mobile. Okay, but these just do mobile.

[00:16:37] So, this is how a DSP or managed Services technology works. You have the option to go here, here, here, here, here and here and run campaigns.  Sort of a pain in the ass, isn’t it? Well, what if you had one solution that could tap into all of them?  I can tell you right now that this solution, the company I’m going to work for Empowered, connects to 40 of these. So, you’d have one dashboard to manage your campaigns while tapping into up to 40 different networks or social media networks, pretty powerful stuff.

[00:17:22] Okay influencer advertising is native advertising. It’s not influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is earned media. These platforms allow you as a marketer to go find an influencer and that software and technology will connect the two of you and will facilitate a financial transaction between you and the influencer that this software chooses for you. That’s what makes this influencer advertising and what makes it native advertising. In fact, this is the oldest form of native advertising on the planet.

[00:18:08] Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull was involved in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show posters.  And he was paid to be on those posters, but he really wasn’t in the show, but for like 10 months, that was in the 1880s, that was a form of influencer advertising.

[00:18:35] And of course social media and a new generation of software that’s cropping up exclusively taps into social media. So, these are like DSPs for social media only. So rather than going into Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Pinterest and setting up campaigns, you can go into one of these and set up your campaign under one roof and track it.

[00:19:10] What else? So, these are your more bottom funnel content examples. So, these are for e-tail and e-commerce. I can tell you right now for this year, we’re going to see massive growth here because these third-party Amazon ad tech companies, they’re exploding. I see one every week, a new one.  And then of course email is one of the most productive channels that you can use as a marketer. Well, why not do native advertising in other, people’s email? You can, and these solutions allow you to do that.

[00:19:55] All right. What else? Messaging apps, how many of you noticed Facebook Messenger now has a native advertising? That just happened. What else, dating apps?  You can do native advertising in dating apps. I had no idea. I’ve never used one. What else? In game native ads in game. I’m not just talking Xbox and Playstation. I’m talking computer games mobile games all the games, you can tap into with this.

[00:20:34] So let’s talk about some content types.  There’s lots of them, you can do video only native advertising. You can do audio native advertising. In fact, one of these solutions, I believe it’s this one, Dax, will do podcasts as native advertising. So that’s pretty cool. What else? Oh, I didn’t mention augmented and virtual reality.

[00:21:05] Yes. That’s a thing in Native advertising now. In fact, I believe augmented reality is the future of all advertising, but that’s a ways away. What else? Sorry, I’m having trouble with this thing. Any B2B marketers in here? Okay, you want leads right?  You want leads? It’s generally known to get leads online with digital marketing, you generally have a landing page with some type of content asset behind it, a case study or a guide or an e-book or white paper that someone comes and downloads. This company is non-programmatic and takes your ebook and puts it all over the place and gets you leads and delivers leads reports. Its native advertising with your e-book or your guide or your case study. They’re only one that specializes in that type of native advertising.  And it was just a matter of time folks that gifts entered into our native advertising.

[00:22:22] Okay, so these are pretty cool.  If you want to know what your competitors are doing and scale that, download their ad units, look at their landing pages, everything you can do with any of these solutions here. They’re spy tools that can come in very handy.  And then content Discovery optimization if you’re using like an Out Brain or a Tabula, you can use these tools to do robust A/B testing multivariate testing and so on and so forth.

[00:23:02] Sorry, I’m trying to be polite so, people can take pictures. Okay. Now here’s an interesting area for Native advertising. AI is having a huge impact on attribution and analytics. Literally this solution right here, Demand Jump has created a 3D map of the internet. A 3D map of the internet. Why is that important?

[00:23:31] How many of you in here have ever looked at your analytics? Most of you. Okay the analytics that you look at is one degree of separation from your website.  That only represents 20% of the available information within your content sphere of influence.  But when you go three degrees away from your website, you now have a full 3D map of your sphere of influence online.

[00:24:10] And with that, you open up the other 80% of the internet and the data that you can’t see today. How many of you have noticed a channel in your analytics called direct traffic? Yeah, you know what that really is? Means Google doesn’t know where the hell it came from. Why, because they’re only showing you 20% of the available information on the web. Powerful, powerful, insights from these tools.  Stuff you’ve never seen before.

[00:24:45] All right. Next category is enablement. I could do a whole session on Blockchain. I’m not going to go do a deep dive but Blockchain is set to eliminate always fraud and abuse in online advertising. It’s coming. All these companies have cropped up in the last 18 months and more are on their way. I sit on the Advisory board for Ad Hive. Ad Hive is an influencer advertising company that focuses on video and they use cryptocurrency, to pay the influencers and attract the influencers. They also use AI. They use AI to make sure that there’s no funny stuff going on with the influencers. There’s no cheating, right?

[00:25:57] Okay, so these tools are mostly for publishers. These tools here sponsored content marketplaces. This is like the match.com for brands and publishers. So, as a brand, you can go in here and you can ask, Hey, I’ve got this article, what publisher should I do a sponsored content piece with? And it will connect you to them. Okay, and then these are primarily just for publishers.

[00:26:25] Okay so that was the whirlwind of today’s native advertising technology landscape. I know it’s big and it’s robust, but hopefully I broke it down for you, so you really understand it because most people don’t. All right. So now let’s get into some best practices. These are things that you can take back with you today to have better campaigns tomorrow.

[00:27:00] So targeting, these are the different ways that you can target your native advertising. Context, so you can target your native ads based on if your content matches the context of the content that would surround it. It makes sense. If you have an article on how to build a car, it would make sense if that ad unit was on like Auto weekly.com, right?

[00:27:30] So there’s context between the content. Of course, you can do audience targeting, we’re pretty familiar with that. Day parting, picking certain days and times. Did you know, and I just learned this not too long ago, you can target based on the weather with some of these solutions? Might be helpful to know if you sell, I don’t know, skis or umbrellas.

[00:28:00] Okay, what else? So, let’s say that you decide you’re going to use Facebook and you’re going to target first time moms. Well Facebook says okay, you can target first-time moms but since this is a marketplace, you should bid somewhere between here. Okay, that’s great. Well, what if we could use AI and machine learning and figure out all the words that are highly correlated to this word that are cheap, like bath time.  So, we use that software to go through and read our content and pull out words that may be correlated in some way to first-time mothers. And then we just target those words say we have 20 of them. Instead of spending all that money on targeting first-time moms we’re spending a fraction of that and still targeting first-time moms. It’s just we’re doing it smarter.

[00:29:15] Okay, next your goals. I’m going to add one to this but before I do, don’t ever go into any type of advertising or marketing without understanding your goals. Generally, this is the group of goals that you’re going to choose from. I will add to this list, engagement. As top funnel content marketers, engagement might be the goal. How many people did we get to engage with our content?

[00:29:54] And the reason I add that is simple because content marketers don’t want to pay per click. Content marketers don’t want to pay for impressions. What do content markers want to pay for?  Engagement.  Empowered the company I just took this VP of Marketing role with, they have pioneered the CPE or cost per engagement model.

[00:30:27] So if somebody clicks through an ad through Empowered, it doesn’t cost you anything unless they scroll a certain depth and spend so much time with the content.  Okay, this is part of the reason that native advertising adoption with content markers is so low because there’s nothing out there to help us measure our engagement.

[00:30:51] Okay, I got to speed this up folks. So, measure what matters this is a small case study I did. I played around with a little bit of money. And that was my budget. These are the channels I chose. That’s what I actually spent.  So, then I asked myself, okay, well, how many clicks did it get according to Facebook out brain so on and so forth? I put those in there. Okay what I spend per click? Look at that LinkedIn’s kind of expensive.

[00:31:29] Well, then I said, okay well, let me go into my analytics and look at unique visitors. How many of those do we have? Well, they didn’t quite a lineup with what the platform is told me. So, I’m like, okay so, what did I spend per unique visitor? Whoa, look at Twitter.  Kind of expensive, isn’t it?  What else? Oh, I want to find out what how many subscribers did I get to my website? Not that many and that’s what I spent per subscriber.  Then I said well how many leads did I get? How many top funnel leads did I get? And that’s what I ended up paying for those leads. Now, this number here is actually depending on your industry about the cost of a top funnel lead.

[00:32:24] Now, I made some mistakes in this and we’ll talk about those. But the takeaway is that social media isn’t necessarily as cost-effective to promote all of your content. Okay, so taking an RSS feed and plugging it into Facebook and blasting all your content every time it gets published, probably isn’t a good idea.

[00:32:51] But programmatic native ad units are like Out Brain and Tabula and all their competitors. What else? So, my recommendation is on social media channels only promote your best performing content. So, content that is already proven to perform well. That’s the content you should promote on social media.

[00:33:22] Okay, that brings me to be careful with terminology. The reason my case study I said I made mistakes is because I didn’t pay attention to terminology.  Because as little as 1/16 of the actions that you pay for on social media is the action that you want, like the click through to your website.

[00:33:48] Okay, you still have to pay for likes, shares, so on and so forth, if you don’t set up your campaign properly.  Okay now I don’t know about you but a like is cool, but I don’t want to pay for it. I want to pay for someone coming to my website and engaging with my content. So, pay attention to the terminology and make sure you, setup your campaigns based on your goals, so you can avoid the big spending gap that I just showed you in that case study.

[00:34:15] Okay experimentation. So, this is cool. I learned this from Larry Kim if somebody shares your social media post that you paid for, any action that occurs on that unit that was shared, you don’t pay a dime for. So, let’s just say for instance, you have a hundred employees and you pay to have an ad unit put on Facebook and all hundred of your employees share it, anything that happens to that post from your employees cost you nothing.

[00:35:00] And pay attention to creative. These are just some aspects you may want to take note for of the creative. See the problem today in most organizations that do native advertising, native advertising is siloed from the creatives. It’s in some media buying silo. I think that’s a big mistake as creatives as content creators, we need to own this because this is creative too.

[00:35:43] Okay, so here are my takeaways. We live in an age of content surpluses in most Industries. So, it’s very, very, important to know and to implement paid and or earned media to get back some of that visibility. What else? These are the four types of native advertising.  ignore the IAB’s categories. They’re self-serving.

[00:36:15] So, the Ad Tech landscape grew nearly 50% year-over-year from last year to this year, 50% growth. Remember 85 billion dollars will be spent in the year 2020 on native advertising. And lastly target wisely, set goals, measure what matters, watch your terminology, experiment and don’t forget creative. With that said ladies and gentlemen, that’s my time.

[00:36:45] And these are the last three books that I wrote. And I wrote them all within the last five months. If you’re interested in the Native Advertising Technology Landscape, there’s a whole book on it here. It’s free. I did an influencer marketing case study that’s free. And if you really want to learn everything you need to know about artificial intelligence and marketing, I highly recommend you download this book. They’re all free and they’re all available on ChadPollitt.com. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.


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