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What Is Native Advertising, Anyway?

By Shannon Correia on 8 September 2023

Native advertising is a form of online advertising that blends seamlessly with the content and format of the platform on which it appears. In essence, platforms such as LinkedIn allow you to design an ad that seamlessly blends in with organic content – the only difference is a sponsored ad label. This ensures that the user experience isn’t disrupted. Let’s take a closer look at native advertising and why it needs to form part of your marketing mix. 

Native ads are a great tool for reaching audiences and engaging with them. It needn’t only apply to social media platforms. There are many examples of native ads on popular websites, such as advertorials featured among news content. It is a less obvious form of other digital ads like display ads, banner ads, and pop-ups.

The key to being successful with these ads is to ensure that the content is contextual. In other words, it shouldn’t only look like the other content, but it needs to match it as well to truly blend in and stir interest among viewers. These ads have proven success rates, forming a large (and growing) number of all digital ad spend. According to the New Digital Age, “Native ad spend in the UK is expected to increase from approximately $6 billion currently, to around $27 billion by 2025.”

With an abundance of content consumption across various mediums and channels, it’s no wonder native ads are garnering a better reception. Other digital ads may be more likely to be skipped altogether, and all sorts of brands are battling it out for the attention of their target audiences, so finding ways to connect with your audience as close to organically as possible could earn you more views, conversions, favourability, message association, and customer consideration. For native advertising stats, see these 50+ Native Advertising Statistics: Market & Spending Forecast by MarketSplash.

Types of Native Ads

Let’s take a look at some types of native ads that you can include in your marketing mix, as detailed by theInteractive Advertising Bureau:

  • In-feed Ads: Sponsored posts appearing in an organic feed. 
  • Paid Search Units: Ads that appear at the top of the results page on search engines. 
  • Recommendation Widgets: Functional buttons that form part of a web page and provide you with relevant recommendations. 
  • Promoted Listings: Promotional listings among search results when online shopping or searching for content on TikTok. 
  • Display Ad with Native Elements: Contextually placed ad that is a seamless ‘next step’ for the content that you’re viewing. 
  • Custom: Creating other forms of specialised ads, such as social media filters and geotags.

Given the many forms of native ads, there are many ways to approach and implement these kinds of ads. This has given rise to Programmatic Buying, a software tool which automates the buying and selling of ad spend. It uses an algorithm to deliver campaign goals, KPIs, and optimisation based on your target audiences’ behaviours. 

Native ads are expected to continue to grow. It goes without saying these ads still need to be forthcoming. It is not about tricking people into thinking it’s organic content, but rather to design ads that cater to your audience and are less disruptive and intrusive. To do this, you’ll need a deep understanding of your audience and to identify your goals and the right medium, messaging, format, and content. Once the ad has run its course, you’ll need to measure the results, optimise future campaigns, and retarget interested individuals. 

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