Written by Tom Bell (a ClickBank Platinum affiliate)
Facebook advertising in 2021 has been turbulent, even at the best of times, for beginner and experienced affiliate marketers alike. You’ve probably been frustrated by the relentless ad account shutdowns, disabled business managers, and sky-high CPMs (plus much more!). That’s why thousands of frustrated affiliates have jumped ship in pursuit of greener pastures, and frankly, more sustainable traffic sources.
One of the latest rising trends in digital marketing is native advertising. The trend has been surging among ClickBank affiliates recently, so as a current ClickBank Platinum affiliate, I wanted to weigh the pros and cons of Facebook affiliate marketing and native advertising for you!
As we cover the differences between native ads vs Facebook Ads, hopefully we can help you decide if native ads would be a good fit for your business and advertising arsenal (as an affiliate or as a product owner/seller.
Understanding Native Advertising
If you aren’t familiar with native advertising yet, native ads are a form of display ad that appear on a website and are designed to look and feel like content.
These ads appear as an image and a headline and give the impression to a user that after clicking, they’ll be taken to a piece of written content, as a native ad looks virtually identical to an article widget that users would commonly see on any content-based website.
In comparison to a Facebook News Feed ad, for example, native ads are much smaller in appearance and don’t feature any weighty ad copy that may be present in a Facebook ad. An effective native ad will feature a curiosity driven image and headline (often around 60 characters, depending on the ad exchange) in order to drive a high click-through rate, while prequalifying the user for the desired niche of the offer.
Often, you’ll find them hovering attractively below an article, which is particularly effective because web users have been conditioned to accept them as other pieces of content related to the article they’ve previously read. This placement naturally encourages a strong click-through rate and subconsciously builds trust with the user.
Why Native Advertising Is SO Effective
I can tell you, native ads convert great!
This is because of the nature of ads, where the user doesn’t realize they are in a sales flow until MUCH later in the funnel. At this point, though, they’ve been effectively warmed up and pre-framed to see the offer, so they have a great chance of converting into a customer.
Setting up a native advertising campaign involves bidding on a variety of websites for their advertising inventory, and each placement or particular area within a website where their ads show (many bigger sites have TONS of places their ads show up on) is known as widget IDs. Buying traffic in this way also gives native ad buyers the ability to leverage the pre-existing trust and affiliation of the website where the user has already landed.
The traffic costs for native ads are pretty cheap too, and in contrast to Facebook in recent times, they don’t fluctuate wildly day to day. This stability isn’t just good for your business, but also for your mental health! As reformed Facebook advertisers ourselves, we know that promoting affiliate offers became particularly frustrating this year.
We would often see CPMs surging high unexpectedly, consequently causing an unhealthy rise in cost per click, which worsened again after Apple’s iOS 14 update. The native advertising platforms certainly offer a much more consistent alternative.
Which Marketing Platform Has Cheaper Costs?
Native advertising platforms beat Facebook almost every single time, on cost.
The average CPC on Facebook comes in around $1.7, when taking into account all niches, while CPCs for native campaigns can fall anywhere from $1 right down to $0.2 or lower in some native ad networks!
You can expect similar conversion rates too. So, cheaper costs paired with similar performance on the business end of your advertising flow will give your ROI a pleasing boost!
Technical Differences in Native vs Facebook Ads
Facebook affiliates have grown accustomed to Link CTRs in the 4-7% range, on average, and often these would be accompanied by profitable campaigns. On native platforms, the user experience is different, as you are competing with an entire webpage, featuring other ads and content widgets too, whereas a Facebook News Feed ad, for example, features the advertisement as its own entity.
A 1% iCTR on your native creatives would be considered the Holy Grail of Click Through Rate! Realistically, though, you can expect iCTRs in the 0.2-0.6% range.
However, this is actually GREAT news for budding native affiliates, as the seemingly lower CTRs are offset by amazingly lower CPMs (as low as $1-2 at times) on the native traffic sources, which gives an overall lowering effect for traffic costs in comparison to Facebook, as we indicated earlier.
Is It Hard to Start Your First Native Ad Campaign?
There is a common misconception in the affiliate community that native advertising costs thousands to get even get started. This is completely untrue.
I believe part of the misconception originates from the fact that we were simply spoilt on Facebook. Advertisers were sometimes able to get profitable on day 1 of running a campaign, then scaling things up very quickly from there.
Those golden days are long gone. And things are going to get harder and harder on Facebook.
Advertisers coming from Facebook to Native, however, will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to “plug in” their campaigns from one to the other. This was exactly what we did, when the ad account bans and dropoff in conversion rates became beyond a joke. We were able to maintain our ClickBank Platinum status in 2021 by running the exact same ad images and offers on the native networks.
Native platforms are far less stringent than Facebook, so you’ll never have to worry about being too aggressive in your ads or having them rejected, giving you the opportunity to market a little more openly.
Do Native Platforms Ban Accounts?
We’re often asked if the never-ending ad account shutdowns prevalent in Facebook advertising amongst affiliates are an issue on native platforms, as well. It saddens us that so many affiliates have had such a negative experience on Facebook that being faced with a blacklisted ad account for no reason whatsoever has become the norm in the online community!
The ad account bans on Facebook for affiliate marketers can be horrendous. No question.
However, this is pretty unconventional amongst most other traffic sources. So, if you’re tired of praying to the unjust “Facebook Gods” to keep your ad accounts alive, you’ll be pleased to hear that this is no point of concern on native traffic sources.
You may experience a few rejected ads here and there, which you can always resubmit, of course, but we’ve never heard of an entire advertising account going down!
How Sustainable Are Native Advertising Campaigns?
It amazes us how many people are continuing to struggle on and build their entire business model around Facebook Ads, even in these challenging times!
Chasing up disabled business managers and fighting with poor quality traffic to extract conversions is not our idea of a sustainable business model. How can you build a business when your core assets are entirely caught up in a fluctuating, imperfect algorithm?
Facebook advertisers will find native advertising refreshing in every sense, where the skill of the advertiser gets the chance to shine, as opposed to finding lucky pockets of traffic in the great big, blue ocean and having full dependency on an algorithm.
Buying traffic on the native traffic platforms does not rely on an algorithm – instead, it involves bidding on websites and buying data on a mass scale, which is optimized into profit, from the ad level, landing page level, and offer level. It’s logical. It’s reliable. And it’s VERY profitable.
Campaigns will come and go on every traffic source and seasonal trends are as much of an occurrence on native platforms as they are on Facebook. But for us, native advertising wins on the sustainability front every single time, since we are able to follow more of an exact science in our processes, without having all our assets ripped from under us.
Are You Really Building a Business?
We will admit that Facebook, in its day, would deliver faster results than native. It was a little like casting a fishing rod into a pool of hungry piranhas! If there was such a phenomenon of printing money on demand in affiliate marketing with ClickBank offers, this would have been it.
These days, Facebook can be a long hard slog, with no guarantees. Traffic quality is volatile and the painful ad account bans won’t be easing up any time soon. You’ll also have to find an ad account that actually delivers any performance too. Yes – different ad accounts settle into the algorithm very differently and deliver radically different results.
If you’re prepared to wrestle through all of this and go down the “greyhat” root with hundreds of ad accounts, we commend you! You’ll probably make it work eventually, but you’ll struggle to find any sustainability in your income.
However, for those of you who are looking to build an affiliate marketing business that consistently delivers results, there’s never been a better time to get started in native advertising. The traffic is crazy cheap, converts superbly for broad appeal affiliate offers, and you’ll never have an account shut down, either!
Native traffic sources are renowned for offering a quality customer experience, too. Platforms like Outbrain, RevContent, and MGID offer exceptional levels of support – whether that’s with setting up your campaign most optimally or just general account queries.
Native Ads vs Facebooks Ads Wrap-up
The goal of this article is not necessarily to paint Facebook in poor standing as an advertising platform for affiliates at the time of writing, but when evaluating both Facebook and the huge amount of untapped native traffic against each other, it’s an easy win for native in our opinion.
At the very least, native advertising is another weapon in every performance marketer’s arsenal that is an absolute MUST HAVE in 2021. If you haven’t started with native ads yet, now is the perfect time to give them a try!
Revenue Tactics are a leading digital marketing education platform, specialising in affiliate marketing, co-founded by ClickBank Platinum affiliates, Tom Bell and David Ford.