Eight Tips for Writing an Irresistible Native Ad Headline

June 1, 2016 | by Hana-Lee Sedgwick

The beauty of native advertising is that the ad matches the look and feel of the content around it, blending in. The tricky part about this form of advertising is that, well, the ads blend in. Because of this, brands must compete for the attention of the consumer—a consumer who likely has an attention span of less than 25 seconds—and the only way to do so is by creating something interesting, catchy and of course, relevant. That’s where the headline comes in.

 An effective native ad headline should tell a story and paint a picture of what the user will find on the other side of the click. You’ll want to create a connection or a meaningful association for the user to want to click. So how do you do this? Just follow our best practices for crafting a native ad headline to not only increase engagement, but deliver more impactful impressions.


1. Be Concise

Many experts have claimed that most people don’t actually read web pages word-for-word; rather, we scan through them quickly. In fact, studies show that less than 20% of text content is actually read word-for-word. Even famous advertiser David Ogilvy has been quoted saying, “on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” The headline remains a vital part of advertising today. To reach the most people with your headline, use concise, scannable text to get the point across quickly while generating interest.

2. Don’t Sell to the Customer

It’s hard to ignore the fact that people just don’t respond well when they think they’re being sold to. We don’t blame them. Instead of writing a headline that looks like a marketing ploy or advertisement, try a headline that looks and feels like a news story or something of value to the reader. Providing valuable and entertaining content will resonate with consumers, increasing the likelihood a user will not only click but become a trusted customer as well.

3. Be Silly, Deep, Funny or Inspirational, But Tell Your Story

As mentioned above, it’s best to approach writing your headline as something that is going to connect with your audience, rather than just trying to sell to them. Your story should offer something that a consumer can relate to on an emotional level. Whether you bond to a target user on a deep, funny or personal level, the ultimate goal is for them to interact with your brand and feel compelled to click. 


4. Be Transparent

If a person feels compelled to click on your ad, it’s uber important to provide them with ad content that aligns to what they will find on the destination page. The headline should offer a solid hint as to what they can expect after the ad click; otherwise the user will feel duped and quickly lose interest and trust. After all, the goal of native advertising is to drive quality traffic to your landing page, keyword being quality. By remaining transparent, you are more likely to gain the right prospective customers and build that relationship.

5. Consider the Call-To-Action

When writing the headline for your native ad, consider the end goal. Don’t overlook the steps you’d like a reader to take after clicking your ad . . . Is it to make a purchase? Sign up for a newsletter? Figuring out the call-to-action is not only instrumental in creating an impactful headline, but also important for defining your target audience and overall story.

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6. Use Numbers

Which seems more effective: ‘Five tips for writing native ad headlines’ or ‘A few tips for writing native ad headlines’? On a psychological level, numbers promise a certain degree of structure and predictability, to which users respond well. (I mean, you did click on this blog post, didn’t you?) Numbers draw attention, pique interest, and just generally make a brand seem more authentic. Plus, providing verifiable evidence takes some of the guesswork out of what to expect after clicking the ad, leading to less anxiety about clicking and more trust in your brand. There we go again, bringing up the trust factor . . . but really, it’s important.

7. Use Adjectives

Catchy or interesting adjectives like effortless, essential, and fun can draw attention to your headline quickly and easily. Just be careful not to make it sound salesy with overused or false promises. ‘Seven fun and essential tips for effortlessly living with a special cat at home’ doesn’t flow quite as nicely as ‘Seven tips for effortlessly living with a cat’. Remember tip numero uno about being concise?

8. Be Relevant

The most important success factor in a headline is being relevant to the consumer. It should use a tone that speaks to your audience and stays true to your brand. It shouldn’t be a tagline or regurgitation of your brand messaging, either—instead, it should be quality content that consumers will care about, based on the context of where the ad appears. 


As you can see, coming up with Native Advertising headlines takes a slightly different approach than for a billboard or banner ad. Don’t think of it as a brand tagline; the headline acts as a window into the value of the content you’re promoting and should engage readers in a way that’s attractive and memorable. In short, the best native ads include high-quality, engaging content that start with a well-thought headline.



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Topics: Customer Experience, Native Advertising, Content Strategy, Best Practices