How to Win at Native Ad Sales

In March Publishing Executive hosted a Native Advertising Summit, which focused on how publishers can take advantage of the native advertising boom. Wired’s head of marketing Maya Draisin spoke during the keynote session and shared how the tech publisher approaches sales for this new revenue stream.

From taking a more consultative approach to comprehending client KPIs, here are 4 things media salespeople should consider when pitching native ad campaigns.

1. Native advertising isn’t a quick sell.

“It’s a longer process. It has more stakeholders, and it’s a consultative sell,” explained Draisin. Salespeople must be prepared to work more closely with clients, convey the goals of the program to multiple leaders within the organization, and guide them through each step of the process. Client management is an important part of the native ad sale, and some of that responsibility may fall on the salesperson.

2. There is a spectrum of native advertising.

To meet the varying objectives and expectations clients may have for a native ad campaign, Wired sells three different tiers of native content. The first tier is the most minimal form of native — a piece of original content that an advertiser sponsors. This can be a great way to introduce a prospect to native advertising and eventually build up to a higher and more premium tier. Tier two may feature a quote from the advertiser and present them as a topic expert. And finally tier three is a completely custom article with a high level of integration of the advertiser’s message and/or brand.

3. A variety of KPIs can determine success.

Unlike traditional display ads, the top KPI for native is not always reach or clicks. Advertisers’ goals will vary, and as a result so will their KPIs. Draisin said that some advertisers may be interested in engagement, such as comments, time spent, and shares. Others want to reach as many eyeballs as possible, so pageviews are key. And some advertisers are looking for greater brand awareness, which may require your team to conduct a brand lift survey before and after the campaign.

4. Native isn’t for everyone.

Brands with something compelling and relevant to say and share with your audience are a good fit for native advertising. If a prospect just wants to pitch its latest product, native advertising may not be for them. “You don’t work with everyone on this. You’re selective.” said Draisin.


Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.