Native advertising comes in various forms on different media. As such, it’s more difficult to measure than a traditional display advertising campaign. Here is an express guide to help you with this essential step in reaching your performance goals.

Define your objectives starting with the brief

Measuring the performance of native advertising involves choosing a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). That choice isn’t made using the wet finger approach and should be made based on your objectives. What is the goal of your native advertising campaign?

There are several types of campaigns for native advertising, and each is more suited to a given purpose. Here are the main ones:

  • To boost your brand image: product placement in an influencer publication, for example via a photo or video on one of the leading social networks,
  • Lead generation: typically a sponsored article on a B2B blog,
  • Traffic to your site and conversions (sales) resulting from it: any form of native advertising, including sponsored articles on influential media, influencer marketing or sponsored research.

Define KPIs specific to the native advertising campaign

So you have an objective? Believe it or not, you’ve almost finished the tough part, because the rest flows naturally from that! For each objective, there is one or a maximum of two corresponding KPIs.

Set (measurable) performance objectives in advance for your campaign, otherwise you won’t be able to correctly evaluate its success. (Photo credit: Rawpixel, Pexels)

Let’s start, however, with the least obvious: brand image. This is a qualitative value, so it’s difficult to estimate the impact of a native campaign on it, unless you conduct a survey of a panel of consumers who have been exposed to the campaign. This would make sense only in the case of a very big budget operation, given the cost of such panels. In any case, this kind of goal is usually the preserve of big brands. For example, if Coca-Cola is running a native advertising campaign, such as a partnership with an influential YouTuber, their goal is not to redirect you to their website for the unlikely reason that you want to buy something on it, but rather to reinforce the prominence of the brand in the minds of the general public and in a favorable way, in order to boost sales in stores. The only real way to calculate the effectiveness of a native campaign is on the one hand, the traffic generated (or the number of views) and on the other, the engagement received. Defining a target number of engagements is therefore a relevant objective.

On another register: you want to generate leads (presumably for your B2B activity). Here are the possible KPIs:

  • Gross number of leads generated,
  • Number of qualitative leads, that is to say with a real company as the domain name of the email (so no emails with endings such as @gmail.com or @outlook.com),
  • Number of actual conversions of prospects attracted thanks to the campaign.

Lastly, as part of a campaign with the objective of attracting visits to your site and / or sales on it, the obvious KPIs are the number of unique visitors and the number of sales. It’s easy on paper, but not necessarily easy to track, hence the usefulness of UTM parameters to properly measure the effectiveness of a native campaign.

Use unique URLs from Omniture and Google Analytics (UTM)

It’s risky to rely on cookies to identify visitors and their sources. The safest thing is to apply UTM settings to the URL appearing in the native ad campaign, and which redirects to your website. A URL with UTM parameters exactly redirects to the same page as the same URL without UTM, the difference being that these little parameters will ensure Google Analytics will be able to recognize the visitors and even accurately calculate their behaviour on your website, in particular their conversion rate.

UTM settings are the only surefire technique for tracking visitors coming from a campaign and therefore the actual performance of the campaign. Data never lies! (Photo credit: Franki Chamaki, Unsplash)

A URL generated in this way must include at least these three parameters (the rest being optional, if you want to add more descriptions):

  • Source (newsletter, partnership, name of the blog),
  • Medium (CPC, social, search, etc.),
  • Campaign name (“launch” for example).

To easily create your tracked URL, go to this automatic generator proposed by Google. With use, you will even end up doing it manually yourself.

Bonus: Compare results

Don’t limit the use of UTM settings just to your native campaigns. Generalize them for all your marketing initiatives! You will be able to compare the effectiveness of each marketing segment. Do visitors from your email campaign convert more than those from your posts on social networks? And compared to your latest influencer campaign? Your latest PR push? You’ll be able to prioritize your investments towards the most successful segments. And no doubt native advertising will come first…