The Recipe for Trashy Native Advertising

Benjamin Carro

In charge of Webmarketing at Powerspace, Native Advertising platform for newsletter.

3 March 2016

Published a few weeks ago, this short video from South Park is the perfect illustration of the trashy side of Native Advertising, where publishers and platforms do everything on purpose to fool the users.

I call this new “publishing” business Content Affiliation. It consists in building a site with some content, buying lots of traffic at low cost, and monetising it as well as possible using automated advertising platforms.

Getting traffic has always been THE most difficult part for any website. It is a long term effort to get some traction. In 2016 though, getting cheap traffic using paid advertising is possible using to content recommandation platforms.

As everyone of us is familiar with this trashy side of internet, I wanted to explain how it might work from the inside. So here is a fake guide on how to start your content affiliation business.

1. Come up with trashy Content

Content quality and audience engagement don’t matter in this world. Most of your traffic will be purchased on platforms anyway.

It’s very competitive out there so make sure to far in the trashy side. You need to stand out by finding the right mix for your content between celebrities, tits, weird animals, or scary content. Feel free to copy existing sites too.

Your pages should be minimalist. A headline and a single image can even be enough!

However, take a special attention on the headline. The way you write this piece of copy can do a massive difference.

Also make sure your headlines push the visitor to see more pages of your site using copy such as “….You won’t believe the last one is even real”.


  • Focus on trashy & buzzy content
  • Don’t spend time on writing an article, headline and image are enough
  • Make sure the headline is very appealing
  • Make sure the visitor wants or needs to view other pages
  • Use photo slide shows, it’s the easiest way to get all the above


2. Design a Website with >80% ads

Now you’ve got some pieces of content you need to think how to maximize revenues when thousands of “visitors” will be on your site.

Years ago, the only solution to make money out of your site was using affiliate platforms. Paid on a performance basis, the traffic quality was very important to generate good enough conversion rates, and commissions.

In 2016, with the large adoption of cookie based programmatic media buying, cost per impression becomes the most common purchasing model for display and video. Platforms will by your audience only based on cookie matching, whatever their engagement.

Content recommandation platforms are also mainstream and pay publishers on a cost per click basis.

Perfect exemple of a site full of Ads

Website design check list

  • Forget what you’ve learned in UX
  • Use 80% of the space for ads
  • Use a large part of the ad space for content recommandation widgets.
  • Make sure users can’t differentiate your content and paid ads.
  • The website should be slow so that users click on ads while their browsers are stuck.
  • The “next” & “back” buttons used for the slide shows must be small and hidden so users click on ads.

More is better. Try all advertising platforms possible.

  • Content Recommandation widgets : 100% fill rate, very high CTR%. Use at least 3 different platforms at the same time and find platforms that apply the exact opposite of native ads good practices (no disclosure, no advertiser name…)
  • Google Adsense : perfect for slide shows. Adsense click buttons look like a “next” button, perfectly misleading for your visitors!
  • Re-targeting platforms : a platform like Criteo should cookie match over 70% of your visitors. Provides good eCPMs and no budget capping.
  • Pre-roll & autoplay video platforms : high CPMs. If the video is not visible, no problem.
  • Programmatic website “skins” : premium branding formats with high CPM

3. Buy Cheap Traffic

You are still invisible on the web, nobody knows your site name, and you don’t rank well on Google. Well, it is no problem to start buying your traffic on Content Recommendation platforms.

There are many platforms on the market, doing pretty much all the same with different level of quality thresholds, technologies, and networks. Chose the one with lowest CPCs limits and maximum volumes. If you’re good you should be able to buy click way under 0,02€.

Great exemple of content recommendation widget with no disclosure on the fact these are paid ads.

Good practices at buying traffic

  • A/B Test at least 10 articles and select the top 1 to 3 that have the best click rates%.
  • Quickly setup the lowest CPC possible on the platform
  • Use an ad image that is different from the destination page. Users will get frustrated and try to navigate throughout you site, accidentally clicking on ads.
  • Buy on the same platforms you use to monetise your site. By using your commissions, you might not need to get cash out of the bank!


Most internet users are familiar with this type of websites and crap content. Like spam with email, these practices lies in the dark side of online advertising.

Fortunately most of the established publishers don’t follow this direction and focus on content quality and user experience.

Native advertising done the right way — see IAB Native Ads playbook — is a qualitative form of advertising that can help great publishers make money while improving their users reading experience.

Quality is the path we’ve chosen long ago at Powerspace with our Native Advertising platform for Email. We believe making choices based on what benefits the end user is the right way to stand out on the long term.

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