What to consider when designing native ads for email

Native advertising has been around the block when it comes to the larger advertising ecosystem, but it’s still just a pimple-faced tween when it comes to the email newsletter environment. However, much like today’s Gen Zers, native ads in email newsletters are leaps and bounds ahead of what came before. Already, there are tools available to help streamline native ad serving in email, helping teams improve their operational efficiency.

The beauty of native ads is that publishers have the flexibility to set the design of their native ad slot (yay, choices!). That’s no different when it comes to native ads in email. There are thousands of arrangements your native ad slots can take. But if that vista of possibilities has you wondering where to begin, then you came to the right blog post. Below you’ll find some ideas to get you designing crisp, brand-compliant native ads in email, starting with the blueprint.

An image with examples of native ads for different types of products and services

What are native ad blueprints?

The blueprint is a backend tool that leverages your existing newsletter template HTML to define a native ad slot’s appearance. It ensures all native email advertisements match your defined layout. Blueprints are built to match a wide range of native concepts. The following recommendations focus on what native assets (think headline, body, call-to-action, image) you want your blueprint to support.

Consider your design

Before diving into specific tactics, it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider your overarching strategy. Think about how you want to sell your inventory. How do you expect advertisers’ messages to appear alongside your newsletter content? Do you want a native placement that lends itself to a high-visibility sponsorship? If so, a larger ad slot with an image or longer body text might work best. If you’re going for something more subtle, a text-only native ad with a headline, brief body copy, and call-to-action might suffice.

two side-by-side images that show case native ads in mobile

Your newsletter content can guide your native ad design too. Take a look at your content and consider the following: How is the editorial content structured in your newsletters? Do you want native ads to be an exact or similar match to your newsletter content? Are you hardcoding partner ads into your newsletters using a standard layout? Will a standardized design work for your native placements?

Match your newsletter look and feel

While we’re on the subject of design, native ads that match the look and feel of a newsletter template tend to perform better than native ads that look, well, more like ads. We would suggest having your native ad mirror your template layout, with the same background and font, in order to have the ad look more like a piece of editorial content. Native ads with images also tend to perform better than ads that are text-only; however, if your newsletter doesn’t typically include images, it would be better to not include an image in your blueprint so the native ad doesn’t stick out from your content.

Native ad slot requirements

Because native ad blueprints standardize the look and feel of your newsletter ad slots, you’ll need to specify requirements for ad elements when accepting native exchange demand. Conversely, think about which elements of your native ad slot are recommended vs. required. For example, an ad with a headline and CTA, but no body copy might look fine alongside your content, rendering body copy a recommended asset and not required.

an image that show cases a native ad in a desktop environment

If you require all elements, advertisers who don’t provide all the requirements will be ineligible to serve in your inventory. This prevents you from worrying about ads looking incomplete and appearing in your newsletter inventory. However, by strategically making some assets recommended, your native ad slots become open to demand from advertisers who may have otherwise been ineligible to bid.

Making it all work

Native Ad Blueprints takes a lot of the heavy lifting out of native advertising through standardization and automation. If you’re interested in learning more about native email ad inventory, check out our Native Ad Blueprints solution to see if it’s a good fit for your native needs.