Digital Marketing

Native Advertising Explained in a Comprehensive Guide

Thanks to native advertising, digital advertising has reached a turning point in its young history.

The shift in Internet user behavior and the rising prevalence of ad-blockers present mounting challenges. Reaching consumers through conventional ads like display ads is getting more difficult than ever before.

Now here's the good news…

Native advertising, a performance marketing strategy, is fast becoming a viable alternative for marketers.

In this article, we'll explore virtually everything you need to know about native advertising. We'll show you common examples, advantages, downsides, and things to consider while setting one up.

But first…

We'll attempt a quick definition of native advertising. Shall we?

What Is Native Advertising?

The simplest definition of native advertising is that it is a type of advertising where the ad matches the editorial content on the display site. It can be in the form of a social media post, article, image, video, or editorial piece of content.

Here's an example of a native advertising campaign where a sponsored post was published in the Wall Street Journal.

Image via Wall Street Journal 

How Does Native Advertising Work?

Native advertising is usually an ad provided or created by the advertising brand or its marketers. As you can see in the disclaimer in the screenshot of the WSJ native ad above, they are rarely written by the publisher.

So here's how it works:

In most cases, the advertiser writes or creates the ad and pays for it. Then the media platform reviews it for compliance with its ad policy, after which it is either rejected or approved to go live.

Now, what's the difference between native ads and traditional ads?

Well, the difference is that native ads have:

  • No display banners
  • No intrusive pop-ups

These are ads that look much the same as the everyday content the medium or its users create. No wonder it's sometimes called the chameleon of the marketing world. 

So, how does that drive results?

This integration and resemblance with editorial content allow native advertising to avoid banner blindness encountered in banner ads. It makes it more difficult to block by anti-ad software.

But, there’s a catch.

Because it seeks to blend in with the native content of the publishing site, it raises questions of ethics, transparency, and professional conduct.

This is why it's important to label a native ad properly to let people know that it’s an ad or sponsored content.

So, how's this done? Don't worry, we'll explain that in a later section!

For now, just know that online users are more attracted to native advertising than to other traditional formats.

The reason? Most native advertising platforms help you publish non-intrusive ads that can seamlessly integrate into the users’ browsing experiences.

Native ads offer them something that generates interest and that they want to engage with, even when it is labeled as an ad.

That brings us to the reasons why native ads are so great. Let’s find out in the next section.

What are the Benefits of Native Advertising?

Native advertising has become popular because brands want to share ads in a way that respects how people use the internet. It's about making ads blend better with what users like, improving their experience.

Publishers with a large audience and good search engine rankings can earn money through native ads. Advertisers also like native ads because they can involve customers better, knowing that regular digital ads might be trusted as much.

Detailed below are some of the key benefits native advertising offers for online users, brands, and the media.

Better Audience Reach and Engagement

By solving the challenges of conventional online advertising, native advertising offers more effective audience targeting.

Owing to higher relevance and resonance with the audience, ads like native video ads offer higher engagement and conversion rates.

Here’s an example of a paid content piece that looks just like a native article on the website.

Image via New York Times

The integration and resemblance with the publisher's editorial content allow such content to avoid banner blindness. This is a phenomenon by which users visiting a website or other medium systematically ignore, consciously or unconsciously, banner ads or similar elements that make up a page.

We're at a time when 37% of internet users use ad-blockers. But the good news for advertisers is, native ads are more difficult to block by such software.

This is simply because of how they blend into existing content, which makes them difficult to be recognized as ads.

Native advertising platforms solve a big problem for brands—helping them attract audience attention in a crowded digital space and make people take action.

Traditional digital ads like banners and display ads aren't as effective anymore. This is due to changes in how people respond to ads.

Below is an example of a native ad on X, which looks like any other tweet on the platform.

Image Via X

In contrast to intrusive and heavy banner ads that impede site performance, native ads aid users in their online journey without interrupting navigation.

Effective and Trustworthy

As a performance marketing strategy, native ad placement is more effective. Native ads provide higher engagement rates compared to other web-based advertising formats.

The preference for native ads is rooted in the trust they inspire through editorial integration. This year, native ad spendings in the US alone is forecast to account for 59.7% of total display ad spending, according to the Insider Intelligence.

Good for SEO

When integrated into an SEO strategy, native advertising is a potent lever for link-building.

By posting sponsored articles (“editorial in-feed” format) on authoritative sites, you can build high-quality backlinks to your website.

In-feed native ads are like guest posts, and you can acquire do-follow links from them.

Really?

Yeah! If done consistently, it's one of the content marketing tactics to improve your domain authority and get on the first page of Google SERP.

Common Types of Native Advertising

Now that we know the fundamentals of native advertising, let’s discuss some common types of native ads.

1. “In-Feed” Ads

The term “in-feed” denotes native advertising seamlessly integrated within a site's information flow. It draws both its form and ergonomics from the platform. This format comprises various types, let’s discuss each.

a. In-Feed Editorial Ads

This content is intricately integrated within the platform. It mimics the design of the publisher's articles.

Often, it comes up as a sponsored news article, blog post, or video. Today, editorial in-feed native ads are commonly found in popular online media sites like the New York Times.

As you can see below, the native ad publication is often categorized as a “paid post”:

Image Via New York Times

b. Social In-Feed Ads

These are ads embedded within social media users’ news feeds. It's the most prevalent type of native advertising. You can find them virtually on all social media platforms.

Here’s an example of a promoted post on X, which is a type of native ad.

Image via X

“In-stream” native video advertising, like those integrated into video content on platforms like YouTube, falls under this category.

Here’s an example.

Image via YouTube

c. Native Search Ads

Search engines like Google, Amazon, and more provide native search advertising formats. Below is an example of a native search ad on Google.

Image via Google Search

Often marked as “Sponsored,” these ads blend into search results while adhering to native advertising principles.

2. Promoted Listings

Promoted listings refer to product lists advertised on a publisher's site. They link to an internal page or the advertiser's ecommerce platform.

Here’s an example from Amazon.

Image via Amazon 

These ads are commonly found on online marketplaces and search engines.

Unlike other formats, promoted listings have a direct sales objective. They prominently include pricing and essential information to prompt user purchases.

3. Content Recommendations

Content recommendations are native ads or elements embedded within the content solely aimed at linking to similar internal content.

Check out how we recommend similar content in our blog posts.

Image via Attrock 

These links are grouped within a specific widget, targeting users based on their interests.

Publishers often position them at the bottom of content pages. They encourage readers to explore additional content after consuming the primary content.

However, they can also appear in the middle of the page or on the sidebar.

Tips for Creating Effective Native Ads

You can ensure the effectiveness of your native ad campaigns by putting these tips into practice.

1. Prepare Unintrusive Content

The content should help your target audience in one way or another. Whether it is to educate them or help them understand what problem your product or service can solve, it should be valuable.

But that's not all…

You need to direct them to a content page or blog when they click on the native ad. This ensures a good user experience and helps them fulfill the call to action.

Remember that the key is to offer them information about this first step. Then, invite them to leave their information through a form or make an inquiry.

2. Create Buyer Personas

Before starting any marketing and advertising campaign, it’s essential to identify your target audience and create buyer personas.

It helps you create highly targeted campaigns. This also helps to create content aimed at solving the specific problems and needs your audience has.

Once you know who they are and have defined it, the next step is identifying how to craft the ad and what media or platforms to use.

Some great native advertising platforms include Nativo, Outbrain, and Taboola.

3. Ensure Relevance

Remember that you must integrate the ads with the rest of the page on the publishing site.

Ensure your ads match the look, feel, and context of the platform or website on which they’re published. Tailor the content to fit seamlessly within the user experience.

For instance, here's a Facebook native ad that has been designed to blend in with users’ feeds. It looks much like an average Facebook image and text post.

Image via Facebook 

That's not all.

The ad above is relevant to the prospect's needs thanks to Facebook’s audience targeting. So this is something you have to ensure while leveraging native advertising on social media.

4. Be Transparent

Advertising standards and ethical guidelines require that you label ad content as such.

So, how do you make sure you are not flouting advertising guidelines?

Clearly label ads you create or manage as:

  • “Paid post”
  • “Sponsored”
  • “Promoted”

This helps to maintain transparency and build trust with users.

Here’s an example of a paid post on The New York Times, which is clearly marked as such.

Image via New York Times

Misleading or deceptive ads can harm your brand reputation. Not to mention, you can face penalties if you don’t disclose your ads properly. So, be clear and transparent when publishing native advertising content.

FAQs

Q1. What is another name for native advertising?

A. Native advertising is also called branded journalism, partner content, chameleon advertising, or sponsored content.

Q2. How do you spot native advertising?

A. As we've seen in the native advertising examples, you can spot them with identifiers like “sponsored post,” “sponsored,” “promoted by (brand name),” “branded content,” “promoted,” “ad,” “paid post,” “paid advertisement” and more.

Q3. Why is native advertising controversial?

A. Native ads are controversial and seen as unethical by some because consumers often confuse them for the publishing channel’s native content. This can mislead readers.

Q4. Is native advertising good or bad?

A. Native advertising is excellent for advertisers, as well as for site owners and consumers. For advertisers, it's one of the most effective ways to advertise products.

It's also good for consumers because it's often shown to them as a solution to their needs. The search engine algorithms determine this by their search queries or search history, thanks to cookies and big data.

For publishers, it's an extra source of monetization. The onus is, however, on them to ensure the credibility and validity of what is advertised.

Q5. What are the disadvantages of native advertising?

A. Some native ads, like sponsored posts, are quite expensive. They are also time and labor-intensive. Finally, the placement mode for native advertising is sometimes seen as deceptive and unethical.

Q6: Why do advertisers choose native advertising?

A. Advertisers choose native advertising because such ads are considered more impactful and efficient. That's because native adverts produce a higher click-through rate than traditional display ad formats.

Native advertising also disrupts the activities of Internet users less as it doesn't use intrusive formats.

Native Advertising Is a Way to Elevate Your Brand in the Digital Sphere

No doubt, native advertising is one of the most effective in digital advertising. It's found on top websites and native advertising platforms like the New York Times, BuzzFeed, Outbrain, and other media platforms.

With insights into native advertising's intricacies and effective utilization, you can elevate your marketing endeavors and bolster brand resonance.

Are you looking for further guidance on maximizing the potential of native advertising or on this ad concept? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and we'll be delighted to provide additional insights to refine your experience and drive remarkable results in your marketing pursuits.

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma is the Founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic | 5K keywords on page 1. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business2Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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