Best Native Ad Networks You Should Use in 2019
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Native is the crown prince – it’s the new mantra that you might often hear when it comes to online advertising (hint: a crown prince is someone who’s likely to become the next king).
Native Ads spend has been growing consistently in the US, gaining approximately 25% in advertising spending each year, for the last three years.
The Native Ad Spend Trend
Below, you can find the native display advertising in the United States from 2016 to 2019 (in billions U.S dollars).
The spending seems to be going up steadily year-over-year, and the reason, funny enough, is because no one likes ads. Even affiliate marketers have AdBlock just in case. Native is gonna keep growing and evolving because, ironically, it looks the least like an ad, compared to all other formats.
Related Content: Mobile Ad Formats and Sizes: The Essential Guide
Native ads help to avoid banner blindness (for now), they provide additional value to the visitor, and drive engagement. Most importantly, they bring revenue.
Google utilizes native approach when showing ads on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), as well as when it comes to displaying ad websites – they both try to mimic the look and context of the placement they are showing in.
Facebook uses native approach by showing you the ads that correspond to your interests, yet are mostly served as a part of your timeline and (should) fit there naturally.
YouTube isn’t there, yet – its content is too hard to mimic for now, but they’ll figure something out.
We’ve listed these Native Ad Networks as the top picks for affiliate marketers:
- MGID (Check MGID Review)
Let’s dive in and explore them a little further!
MGID has been one of the pioneers in the native. Launched back in 2008, it has spread over millions of websites, and has subsidiaries tailored for specific regional markets.
It’s one of the friendliest platforms for affiliate marketers, requiring a deposit of just $100 to start your first campaign.
However, let’s take a brief look at MGID and see it from a larger perspective.
For one, the traffic flow is estimated at 70 million visits (at the time of writing). While this number is certainly substantial, let’s check where these visits come from:
That’s quite a variance, don’t you find? Yes, while USA generates, naturally, the most traffic on the platform (yet still not too much), you can see that the other spots are occupied by Tier 2 countries, such as India and Vietnam.
That’s one of the reasons why MGID’s traffic is often called “low quality”. Quality is defined by the audience, and as an affiliate you really gotta know the audience of the platform, and not just that of your offer.
Done with the audience. So, we know that MGID is particularly friendly with affiliate marketers. What does it offer tech-wise?
First, there are quite a few targeting options for you to address the right kind of viewers:
- Device (Desktop/Mobile/Tablet + OS for each one)
You might notice that there’s no WiFi/Carrier targeting option. It’s unfortunate, but common within native platforms. Keep in mind that you’ll often need to have backup campaigns on your tracker to filter out WiFi traffic and direct it to a different offer.
Next, the other options are pretty useful, too:
- Retargeting – for pursuing leads that have expressed interest in your offers
- Scheduling – for, well, you know, scheduling the time for displaying your ads
- Frequency capping – for limiting the number of times someone sees your ads
- Selective Bidding – for adjusting your bids depending on parameters that drive results
So, all of that – good functionality and low entry barrier make MGID a perfect entry point for when you wanna start your path in Native Advertising.
Just don’t forget to study their content guidelines to know which niches and angles are allowed.
If you’re ready to try it out, check our detailed guide and in-depth MGID review.
And, of course, don’t forget our MGID Exclusive 25% Bonus (Up to $5000)!
Revcontent is a relative newcomer who strives to strike a good balance between the quality of publishers and being affiliate friendly.
And they mean business. It’s not by accident that they’re frequently named as the “top growing native advertising network” despite the fact that their growth strategy is pretty self-limiting.
The Revcontent team set high standards for their publishers, such as requiring a website to generate at least 50,000 monthly visits, and proudly claim (right there on the homepage) to reject 98% of all applicant publishers.
The results? Check them out:
Revcontent’s got at least two Tier 1 countries in its GEO list, which is good. But what’s way better – The US generates the absolute majority of the traffic. No wonder, they even have different requirements for US and Indian websites.
They say that “Not every website is created equal”, and they definitely practice what they preach.
Let’s talk about what Revcontent offers to advertisers, shall we?
The list is familiar to you, but there’s a twist.
Revcontent allows you to use one of the bidding models:
- CPC – standard cost per click
- vCPM – you’re only gonna be billed per viewable 1k impression, i.o.w. when your ad is actually seen.
Most marketers are probably gonna go for CPC, as that makes ROI optimization clear and straightforward. But it’s still nice to have an alternative, especially if you come up with a super attractive angle.
Oh, and don’t forget about the Optimization option – you can optimize for clicks or for actual ROI.
All of the other options are as you probably expect them:
- Geo Targeting – both Include and Exclude options
- Device & OS Targeting
- No WiFi/Carrier targeting – they make it about content discovery, not conversions – so we, marketers, have to live with that
- Retargeting – available only for vCPM bidding, for some reason
- Brand targeting – for targeting their exclusive top publishers (and skyrocket your CPC)
- Topic targeting – for choosing website topics – where you want your ads to appear on
and – ah! – the super dope Exclude Low Volume Widgets option!
How’s that useful? Well, you can filter out websites that have worsened their visits stats since joining the Revcontent network – and this way improve the traffic you’re buying.
Another thing that makes Revcontent stand out is the option for Push Notification Traffic. They offer 180mm – 500mm daily impressions, both for Mobile and Desktop, with 0.42% – 1.52% CTR and $0.01 – $0.20 CPCs. Considering the cost and reach – it may be something worth exploring with the appropriate type of offers, right?
So far, we’ve covered the good sides of this remarkable native ad network. How about its downsides?
Well, consider this – if they reject 98% percent of publisher applicants, they do hold affiliate marketers to even higher standards of scrutiny. Affiliate marketers are often on the dark side of the quality force, so you gotta be realistic in your expectations.
The approval time can easily take 10+ days.
And it’s in your best interest to avoid applying with an exotic credit card. It’s gonna instantly put a big fat red flag on your application.
All in all, Revcontent is a great ad network and traffic source – and that may bring you both headaches (when pleading for approval) and joy (when getting conversions).
Now that we’ve talked about the affiliate friendly ad networks, let’s move to the more conventional ones – those that have defined the native ad space.
Taboola has been around since 2007 and has built a lot of authority. It’s the platform to use if you want your content (or offers really) to be displayed on AOL, NBC, Business Insider, MSN, USA Today etc. – a.k.a. the real authority carriers.
If you check their traffic flows, you’re really gonna like the picture:
At least 50% of the network’s traffic comes from Tier 1 countries, which makes Taboola a definitive source of high-quality traffic.
Aside from serving regular ads and content suggestions, it also brokers some Absence traffic and serves video ads (for instance, Taboola carried out the Dollar Shave Club video campaign).
It’s a network with a tough entry barrier. For one, they don’t except websites with less than 500,000 monthly traffic, their content policies are pretty strict, and they are super focused on the publisher’s and the consumer’s experience.
Taboola, for example, allows publishers to add negative keywords to restrict ads/content with certain headlines from ever appearing on the publisher’s website.
Or there is also an option for the viewer to hide any ad they don’t like (aka Taboola Choice feature).
What about the part that all affiliates love – targeting? Well, Taboola proves to be kinda conservative here:
Location – Country, Region (+ blocking/exclusion)
Device – Desktop/Smartphone/Tablet
Publisher blocking – who knows, maybe you already know that certain publishers aren’t a match for your offers
The last option – Audience – is somewhat tricky. Basically, it allows you to do two things:
- Retarget your audience (Campaign Clickers or Pixel Based options)
- Target a specific audience (Audience Segments) – something of a mash between Affinity and Demographics targeting, if we were to compare it with AdSense).
Then come CPC settings, which you’re gonna find are very helpful. Taboola is a CPC blackhole due to its high-quality traffic and top geos, thus you’re gonna have to set your budgets very carefully.
There’s a common CPC Bid, your CPA goal, accelerated/even spending and so on – Taboola generally gives recommendations for default values, which you can use while in the “data gathering” mode.
You can edit your campaign at any time by simply adjusting those settings on the go to increase ROI.
What you’ve got in total?
Superb quality traffic
Top tier geos
High CPC rates
Low approval rates
Taboola is really a place for seasoned native affiliate marketers and should only be approached by you when you’ve juiced the hell out of MGID and Revcontent or have more budget and high-quality offers that need premium traffic.
Our final contender doesn’t require more introduction than Taboola. Probably even less so, as Outbrain has been founded just a little earlier than Taboola – in 2006.
Their motto is simple – quality.
Quality in every possible respect.
Just think of it – in order access Outbrain’s network, a website is required to have 1,000,000 US visits per month! That’s a huge turn-off for most websites, even if that number is negotiable (which it is anyway).
But, as a result, you’ve got an opportunity to appear on absolute top-quality placements, such as CNN, Fox News, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Mashable, and more. Got a sense of the level now?
The traffic source distribution is also close to perfect, dominated by Tier 1 countries.
But, as it often happens, high quality and strict policies aren’t really good news for affiliates. The approval process on Outbrain is crazy strict. You can submit your creatives numerous times, but still get rejected for no apparent reason.
Make sure to check the 2k-word worth guidelines on their website – it’s gonna prevent a lot of frustration when you’re just starting out. In order to be really frugal on headaches make sure to use a native ad spying tool like AdPlexity (Exclusive Discount Coupon)and see which campaigns are actually runnable by Outbrain standards.
Common sense dictates that if you’re considering Outbrain in your budget, you can prolly afford an ad spying tool (did we guess correctly?), so by all means – do use it!
Even though the minimum ad spend on Outbrain is just $20 (it’s $75 on Taboola), you can expect a pretty high CPC with your campaigns running at as much as $1 per click even in low-competition top tier GEOs.
Now, let’s check the targeting options. The most important question is how well can you tailor your campaign to your target audience from the start?
Turns out, not too much.
Outbrain’s campaign setup assumes the look of Facebook Ads, which would probably get you excited – up until you actually start targeting and see the missing options:
Location – nothing unusual here
Platform – simple device category selection, but with no specific OS targeting (which makes it harder to promote CPI offers)
Audience Segmentation – a retargeting tool to reach out to past clickers/viewers or lookalike audiences
Interest Targeting – the strongest tool from Outbrain. Here you can apply lots of options and create sophisticated combinations for reaching out to your ideal customer
To recap, here’s the Outbrain balance sheet:
Sophisticated targeting options (within English-speaking audiences)
Low daily budgets
Highest quality traffic
Strictest approval terms
Outbrain isn’t closed for affiliate marketers, but in order to get there you should convince them that you, like their publishers, are the absolute top of the bunch.
MGID, Revcontent, Taboola, and Outbrain made it to our shortlist of best native ad networks.
There are, however, many other honorable mentions, such as Content.ad, AdBlade, Natively, AdNow and Ayboll. This marketplace is brimming with players, so you can explore till you drop!
The native ad space is great at producing high quality leads, scalable results, international reach, and volumes of data and revenue. And the most important thing you should know is that where content is King, native ads are the crown jewels! So go ahead – run your offers there and shine!