Native advertising has developed not only as an exciting new way for digital marketers to engage with consumers, but also as a new source of advertising revenue for publishers. Native advertising has a number of definitions because its meaning lies essentially in the eye of the beholder, depending on the strategic and media objectives of the marketer or brand.
For this post’s purposes, we’ll define native advertising as the following based on the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s The Native Advertising Playbook:
“Paid ads that aspire to be so cohesive with the page content, assimilated in the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that [the ad] belongs.”
Simply put, native advertising is a sub-set of content marketing, meaning the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with would-be customers. Native advertising can be a promoted tweet on Twitter, suggested post on Facebook or full-page ads between Flipboard pages, but more commonly it is about how brands now work with online publications to reach people. Sometimes, this type of advertising is able to capture succintly what large vinyl banner sizes cannot.
(IAB) breaks native advertising down into six categories:
1. In-feed Units — These types of ads have quite a large variation in execution with three different types of in-feed units.
- An endemic in-feed ad occurs in a publisher’s normal content and is in story form where the content has been written in partnership with a publisher’s team to match surrounding stories. A great example of these can be found on BuzzFeed as “Presented By” articles!
- A linked in-feed ad is also located in the normal content of the publishing site and is a promotional ad that links off of the site to a brand’s landing page. Examples of these can often be seen on Facebook as right-hand column and NewsFeed ads.
- A third (and not named) in-feed ad appears in a publisher’s normal content and allows for the individual to play, read, view or watch without leaving the publisher’s page and is not a guaranteed placement. Video ads on YouTube are great examples of this!
2. Paid Search Units are native ads that must present their content in a format and layout that is readily available to organic search engine results. Often these can be found above the organic search results, look similar to surrounding results and have been sold with a guaranteed placement.
3. Recommendation Widgets occur where an ad or paid content link is delivered via a “widget” that doesn’t mimic the editorial content feed and links to a page off-site. These types of widgets can be found on news websites such as Fox News and CNN under the section “Around the Web” and “Recommendations for You.” Often, these news publications allow space on their websites for companies such as Outbrain to deliver a paid placement of a variety of articles and links.
4. Promoted Listings are designed to fit seamlessly into the browsing experience such as on Pinterest. They often look identical to the products or services offered on a given site and link to a special brand or product page.
5. In-Ad with Native Element Units are ads that are placed outside the editorial area but contain contextually relevant content that links to an offsite page and is sold with a guaranteed placement.
6. Custom/“Can’t Be Contained” — This catch-all category contains the remaining various types of native advertising. Because of its diverse abilities and execution, there is no limit to the possibilities when an advertiser works with a publisher on custom ad units. Many of these are too platform specific, such as custom playlists, to have a category all their own. Great examples can be seen in Spotify and Pandora!
So what do you need to know as a brand?
Native advertising is still relatively new but seemingly advanced in its metric system. It can be measured by evaluating the amount of time spent on a page and conversion rates compared to content marketing that gauges success based on total number of visits. Additionally, Google Analytics can show how brands drive traffic to linked webpages also determining the percentage of traffic and converted leads that were a direct result from native content advertising.
For virility purposes, according to research from IPG media lab, native advertisements are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are much more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32 percent v. 19 percent of respondents said they would do so). With all of this, native advertisements have become one of the smartest plays to make in the online advertising world.