July 14, 2020

Simply put, native advertising is ads that do not look like ads. They blend in with the surrounding content, and readers or site visitors might not even recognize them as ads.

Mike Stopforth, Director of Beyond Binary, explains: ‘In a world where customer attention spans are getting shorter seemingly every day, the task of brands to grow awareness and be top of mind is increasingly challenging. Meeting customers where they are – in their moment of heightened need or interest – is of increased importance and has given rise to a generation of contextual, digital advertising that mimics but builds on the traditional press’s advertorial roots. This native advertising approach provides brands with unprecedented opportunities to educate, inform, and influence customers in the guise of a trusted publication or information source’.

In other words, native ads give the customer what they are looking for without setting off any “advertising” red flags.

What is native advertising

Native advertising is advertorial content or ad units that blend in with the content around it. They are often identified by labels like ‘sponsored post,’ ‘promoted,’ or ‘recommended.’ Native ad content often relates to third-party sites, services, or products while blending in fluidly with the site on which it is published. The native ad units are displayed more naturally and neutrally instead of having a bunch of content that screams ‘Buy Me.’

By using native advertisements, websites, and advertisers improve the users’ experience of the website. And while prominent banner ads and pop ups have their role to play, native ads are placed strategically and come in various ad formats.

What are the different types of native advertising

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), there are three core native ad types.


In-Feed and In-Content Native Ads can be placed on most pages. You can integrate these ads into home pages, product pages, social media platforms, and editorial content pages. They are designed to fit into the layout and design of the page. Thus, they have the same font and color scheme and follow the same structure of elements as the pages where they appear. They should include disclosures that they are advertisements and not part of the organic content of the site.

In-Feed Native Ads appear within article summary or media feeds. They look exactly like the other content that you encounter on the site. These ads are usually identified by the word ‘sponsored’ that appears somewhere at the top of the ad content. Examples of In-Feed Native Ad placements can be found on Facebook and Twitter feeds.

In-Feed Native Ads can be placed in different feeds:

  • Content feeds that list articles, images, or video content.
  • Product feeds that list products or services.
  • Social feeds that show social content like posts, articles, videos, stories, and images.

In-Content Native Ads appear on article pages. They are integrated into the content of the page and usually placed in between the paragraphs of the content. They imitate the design and layout of the rest of the editorial content and blend into the content around it.

While content and product feeds can have both In-Feed Native Ads and In-Content Native Ads, social feeds can only accommodate In-Feed Native Ads. If a user clicks on one of these ads, the ad either redirects them to an external site or keeps them on the same site.

Content Recommendation Ads

Recommendation Ads can appear on publishers’ sites, social media sites, or search engine results pages. These ads recommend content that you could be interested in but is really a paid ad or sponsored content. Users who click on recommended content ads will always be redirected to a different site – either an external page or another page of the same website or URL.

Content Recommendation Ads are also referred to as Content Discovery Ads, Sponsored Content Ads, or Content Recommendation Widgets.

Branded Content/Native Content

Branded Content/Native Content is paid content published in the same format as the organic content on a website. Advertisers usually generate branded content in collaboration with the website or publisher’s content teams. Creating tailored content like this is a form of content marketing. The content provides value to consumers and build trust between the consumer and the brand. It often involves information that explains how a consumer can solve a problem or pain point or how a specific product or service can do the same.

Content marketing provides value to the client while creating broader brand awareness. By using content marketing in collaboration with native advertising efforts, brands can reach a wider audience than they would by merely publishing content on their own digital platforms. Native content marketing strategies are especially effective through programmatic native ad placement, which we will cover soon.

An example of Branded Content will be if a brand commissions an article to be written about a specific product and then pays to publish it on a website. The article will closely resemble other content on that website, and it might seem as if this article is part of the website’s organic content. Because branded content blends in with a site’s organic content, it could be misleading to consumers – and we will cover this in a minute. To maintain brand transparency and credibility, Branded/Native Content should be labeled as sponsored or paid-for content – it should be clearly marked as being an ad.

Branded Content/Native Content is also called Brand Content, Sponsored Content, or Custom Content.

Benefits of native advertisement

Hubshout did a survey based on the users’ experiences of native ads. They found that 67.5% of users have read or engaged with sponsored or promoted articles on the internet. 85% of users said that native ads did not hamper their experience of a website – and some even found that it improved their experience of that site. 73% of people found sponsored content as valuable and sometimes even more valuable than non-sponsored content.

67.2% of users would instead click on sponsored content than banner ads. Furthermore, links to suggested content at the end of an article were more helpful and had a significant impact on users’ purchasing decisions.

On the other hand, between 70 and 80% of users ignore sponsored search results – those ads that you find at the top of a search-result page. Users even seem to distrust brands that use this method of marketing.

Native Advertising and Contextual Advertising

On the surface, these two advertising strategies might seem similar. They both fit into the content around them. The difference is that while contextual advertising relates to the content on the site, native advertising fits in with the design of the website. Contextual advertising is relevant to the content on the site and often share similar keywords or phrases.

Native Ads blends in with the aesthetics of the site. Some native ads could have native element units where the content of these ads will fall under the same niche as that of the publishing site. In this case, the native ad is then also a contextual ad. It is also possible that native ads could focus on an entirely different niche from that of the site on which it is placed. What makes it a native ad is that it looks like the content around it.

Programmatic native advertising

As an Ampry user, you can get the look of native ads, without actually having to go through the hassle of programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is a way to buy or sell online advertising space automatically. Ad exchanges run the transactions. These ad exchanges have auctions where publishers sell ad space, and advertisers acquire the ad space. Instead of doing everything manually, the process of selling and buying ad space – and placing the digital ads- is handled by specialized programs.

These programs can also process traffic data and online targeting methods to place the most relevant ads on specific sites – and at particular times. Programmatic advertising uses various data to identify what services or products a particular site visitor might be interested in. It then opens up the ad space to companies that offer those products or services. Companies then bid on the ad space, and the highest bid wins the ad placement, and the ad goes live. All of this happens nearly instantly as soon as the visitor opens the site.

This means that programmatic advertising, and especially programmatic native ads, can potentially show a substantial return of investment as ads are shown to a specific target audience.

Programmatic advertising has two sides – Supply-Side Platforms (SSP) for publishers and Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) for advertisers. Advertisers use the DSP to purchase ad impressions on publishers’ websites via bids. They also use the DSP to target specific audiences based on age, location, and previous online behavior. The DSP automatically assigns ad space based on the target audience and bid price that the advertiser selects.

Programmatic advertising makes use of multiple ad exchanges on networks. That means advertisers can reach large numbers of websites at once, instead of contacting individual websites one by one. Through this strategy, marketing can be done with little effort while having a broad reach, increasing ad revenue for a specific campaign.

Programmatic advertising instantly gives marketers and advertisers insight into data about ad placements and activity. Access to this data makes programmatic advertising transparent. This data also enables advertisers to optimize their marketing campaigns to reach a more substantial number of target individuals.

This marketing method can also be used for advanced targeting to reach a specific target audience, which would likely lead to a higher conversion rate. Programmatic advertising can target audiences based on interests, browsing behavior, and even look-alike audiences that resemble profiles of previously converted customers. Only about 24% of marketers tap into the advantages of retargeting ads, harnessing this marketing technique for more conversions.

Best practices for Native Advertising

When using Native Advertising, the copy, call-to-actions, and offers are as important as in traditional marketing strategies. In addition to that, marketers who want to use Native Advertising strategies should consider the following:

  • UI and UX. While marketers should focus on having their ads blend into the User Interface (the design of the site), they should also consider how the ads would affect the User Experience (UX). An ad can be beautifully designed, blend in seamlessly with the content around it, and still clutter the space or disrupt the site’s flow. These ads could do more harm than good if they disrupt the user’s experience of using the site.
  • Retargeting. Native ads can be powerful converters when they are focused on retargeting efforts. By creating native ads on your own brand’s site or on an external website you could provide potential, and undecided, purchasers with the information they need to go from ‘I’m not sure’ to ‘heck yes!’
  • Mobile-first. Keep your mobile users in mind when creating your native ads. Ads should enhance your users’ experience, should be easily readable and click-able with an optimized landing page loading time.
  • Keep your ads relevant. Direct your ads to where it could see the most conversion. That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? To do this, you could consider targeting websites that are in your niche. You could also benefit from segmenting your audience and creating highly specific and targeted content for each segment.
  • Furthermore, consider your audience’s behavior. People use their mobile devices and their desktops for different purposes. Tailor your marketing content and strategies to meet your buyers’ behavior on different devices.
  • Create valuable content. Native ads, especially In-Feed Ads, target individuals who enter your sales funnel pretty much at the top. You can build trust and brand recognition by providing them with valuable content that solves their problem or addresses a need. With Branded Content, you can subtly address a problem and speak about how and why your product or service can address it.

Online marketing is a constantly and rapidly changing space. As users become more immune to traditional marketing efforts, marketers need to evolve their marketing campaigns. Native marketing could be an effective paid advertising campaign if implemented correctly. It allows a brand to build trust and credibility through content marketing efforts while offering a less distracting user experience to the publishers’ website.

Native ads can increase click-through rates, which will likely increase the ad revenue for each impression. Some time and thought should go into planning and setting up native ad campaigns. Programmatic advertising enhances a native ad campaign’s effectiveness by using data to increase retargeting efforts while providing marketers access to a large number of advertising sites. Native advertising gives marketers a space to expose consumers to their offerings while, in some cases, enhancing the user’s experience.

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