Book Masterclass

What not to do when pitching native advertising

Dec 19, 2022

Brandon Keenen has been around the native advertising block. He has worked with native at big-time networks such as AOL and CNN and today calls himself chief marketing officer at the investment platform Ziglu.

His current position provides him with a perfect opportunity to share an observation about the native advertising industry that might offend some people on the agency or publisher side of things. Perhaps mostly because of how true it is: You need to wake up, stop flattering yourself and pay more attention to the client.

In other words, your pitch sucks.

“A lot of agencies and publishers, when they talk to a CMO, they start the conversation like this: here’s what we gonna do, here’s what we have done before, look at how well other brands we have worked with did and this is how much success you will get,” Keenen tells the Native Advertising Institute.

“And I don’t think that works”.


Become flexible or become extinct

So what does work?

According to Keenen, the pitch always needs to start with the client.

“No one knows the brand better than the brand. As an agency or publisher pitching native advertising, the starting point should always be the goals of the brand,” he says. “Then you come back to them with a prescriptive plan for exactly how the goals should be achieved.”

Keenen believes native advertising can in fact solve a lot of problems for brands: Product awareness, discoverability and distribution, customer experience, customer engagement and brand advocacy.

But he says there is no way to unlock all of that potential without approaching brands with flexibility and building a plan suited for the specific challenges in each new case.

“If you want to convince any brand to try native advertising, you need the client to define what they try to focus on, whether it’s growth, customer numbers, or whatever and then create calls for action that support those goals.”

What drives the sale?

Another aspect of native advertising that weighs quite heavily on Keenen's mind is digital measurement. Or, more specifically, the matter of attribution.

“I’ve been on this kind of quest for attribution and I’ve come to the conclusion that digital attribution is almost impossible to measure with native advertising,” he says. “If you use Facebook and YouTube, for example, and you also have some native distribution, then Facebook is probably going to drive all customers, but if you remove the native distribution, the Facebook performance drops.”

To hear what Keenen thinks is the best approach to digital measurement, be sure to watch the entire video interview above. 

Anders Vinderslev is a trained journalist and former editor and key contributor to the NAI blog. He has, according to himself, produced some of the most thought-provoking and impactful reporting on the state of native advertising. Today he works as a content creator and editor at Brand Movers, but from time to time he will deliver spicy takes on native advertising and sponsored content here at the NAI blog.

New call-to-action

Be a Native Advertising Hero - Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Join +10,000 peers and become part of the growing native advertising community.

Comments (1)