Native Advertising Definition

Native Advertising
Among the many ad formats, native advertising is the friendliest format for user experience. This makes native ads a strong candidate for any media plan that seeks to reach target audiences in real time, alongside regular content. Unlike traditional ad formats, native advertising integrates itself with the content that a user is engaging with, giving it a true feeling of being relevant content itself. In this article, we’ll discuss the characteristics defining native advertising and explore why native ads are so useful within the modern media landscape.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is paid content that matches the format in which it is found. To do so, native ads need to take on the same form and function of the content within the media format. For example, social media platforms work native ads directly into users’ news feeds. Sponsored posts on Facebook are native ads that, to a user scrolling their feed, look almost exactly like any other Facebook post from their friends. A news feed ad might blend in with the hundreds or even thousands of other posts a user might consume in a day, but they’re only seeing it because it was paid for by a company and targeted to them.
What does native mean in advertising?

The term “native” denotes the relationship between the look and feel of the advertisement and the media format in which it is placed. Because native ads are built to match the style of unpaid content that they are published alongside, they feel like content that is native or endemic to the publishing environment. That is why it is called native advertising.

This is different from other ad formats that don’t mix in with the regular content in a publisher’s feed. For example, typical banner ads on a website simply stick out on the edge of a webpage and are clearly unrelated to the content of the page. Native advertising is also different from content marketing, because it is paid for and published on a third-party platform.

Types of media formats with native advertising

Native advertising can be compatible with several media formats. The six main types of native advertisements as identified by the IAB include:
  • In-feed units: Sponsored or promoted posts on social media feeds or on a website’s feed of content. 
  • Paid search units: Search engine marketing ads that are made to look like organic results on SERPs. 
  • Recommendation widgets: Sidebars of additional, promoted content that is featured on social media, publisher sites or search engines. 
  • Promoted listings: Paid listings for products on a sales site like Amazon that look like other listings a user would find organically but show up higher in search results. 
  • Contextually relevant display ads: Banner ads or other display ads can be considered native advertising if they are contextually relevant to the content of the site and the page on which they are displayed.
  • Custom: Other emerging media formats may fit the custom type of native advertising, such as paid snapchat filters that appear alongside free filters.

How to distinguish native ads

Because native advertising is designed to blend in with the content a user is already consuming and be less disruptive, it raises some questions about how publishers distinguish paid content for their users and remain neutral. Because native advertising is paid content mixed in with regular content, consumers could easily mistake the ads as editorial content created by the publisher themselves.

This is why labels are usually marked somewhere on the face of native ads, delineating them as “sponsored posts” or indicating which company has paid for the ad. The federal trade commission continues to address the evolving nature of native advertising and the possibility that it could lead to deceptive practices and mislead consumers. This is why all native ads should still be fully identifiable as sponsored content through the use of clear disclosures, whether in text, video content or audio recordings.

Benefits of native advertising

Because native ads fit in with the content that a user is already consuming, the main benefit of this ad format is that it tends to be more engaging for users. Research shows that native advertising CTRs tend to be around 8.8 times higher than display advertising. One contributing factor to this engagement is the fact that many users don’t automatically associate native ads as being ads – a study showed that 77% of consumers did not interpret native ads as ads.

The power of native advertising and its high engagement rates may also be due to native ads also being considered far more trustworthy than typical advertising. Branded content is trusted over traditional ads by 2 in 3 Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X consumers. Trustworthy content is also generally more interesting to consumers, simply because they take time to actually consider it. And if consumers trust the paid content they are presented with and are interested in it, they’re far more likely to actually follow through and engage with it.

Native advertising can also be incredibly beneficial to brand awareness, as shown by brand lift studies that found native ads to drive 3x higher brand awareness and purchase intent. For companies who want to stand out while blending in, native advertising allows them to do so.

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