What is Native Advertising & How Does it Work?

The practice of native advertising has been increasing in prominence over the past few years. Despite its growing popularity, it is still unfamiliar and unclear territory for most marketers.

So what exactly is native advertising?

According to Sharethrough (a leader in native ad distribution technology), native advertising is “a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed”. In other words, native ads match the visual design and experience of the site or platform on which they are displayed and function like natural content.

To some extent, native advertising is nothing more than digital advertorial. By definition, “advertorial” is an extension of publishing that advertises and promotes products or services in a style and layout that matches the editorial. For newspapers and magazines, this may seem like old news. But for social media marketers and online advertisers, it’s a new trend that’s catching fire.

The IAB Native Advertising Playbook explains there are two sides to native advertising – goals and ad types. Most advertisers and publishers want to deliver paid ads that blend in to a newsfeed so well, they feel completely organic and actually enhance the user experience. To accomplish this objective, there are six main types of ads which are most commonly used.

  • In-Feed Ads: Sponsored posts or offers that show on your feed in the way any other post would. These ads are dominant in social media platforms and editorial applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, Forbes, Wall Street Journey, and New York Times.
  • Paid Search Ads: Featured rich snippets and rich media in search engines such as Bing and Google.
  • Recommendation Widgets: Sponsored offsite content and videos that appear below or aside main content as “related” or “recommended” posts.
  • Promoted Listings: Paid, front page product and service listings that normally feature rich snippets or promotional text, fitting seamlessly into the browsing experience.
  • In-Ad Ads: Regular ads with guaranteed placement that feature native elements.
  • Custom: Sponsored or pop-up rich media that is true to native formatting.

Regardless of type, all native ads share traits with, and work in a way similar to display ads. They strive to create greater brand awareness, increase sales, and engage users. However, native advertising is beginning to surpass traditional banner ads and assert itself as a new standard of digital marketing. Native ads are proving more effective than regular display ads because of their share value, relevancy, and greater targeting accuracy. For a brief overview regarding the observable effectiveness of this, read my blog on Native Advertising.

In summary – native ads work by disguising themselves as organic to better engage with and appeal to users in a more natural, friendly way. As the digital space continues to expand across all platforms, deeper understanding of native advertising will be of serious benefit to marketers and advertisers looking to stay ahead of the curve.

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