What is Native Advertising?

If you were to search online for a definition of native advertising, Wikipedia would explain it as “a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears.” For instance, imagine writing an article to promote a product, and writing in the same form as the articles produced by the editorial team. If you’re still confused, don’t worry. Native advertising can take a while to wrap your head around, so the following examples will help to explain the concept.

Examples of Native Advertising

As the idea of native advertising is to make the ad itself less visible, it has to match the form and content around it. This makes native ads more difficult to see. Native ads take various forms, many you might have already come across:

Native News Feed Ads

You might have seen Native News Feed Ads in publications like BuzzFeed or The Onion. Again, they look just like regular posts in the news feed of the site, but are actually paid ads.

To use the native advertising terminology, these ads or “stories” are termed as either branded or sponsored. Branded refers to content that is promoted by the publisher but created by the advertiser, whereas sponsored refers to content that is both displayed and created by the publisher and paid for by the brand.

Native Search Engine Ads

Google, for example, offers native ads at the top and right-hand side of its search results. Apart from the word “Ad”that appears in yellow text next to native advertisements, the ads are nearly identical to look and feel of organic search results.

Native Twitter Ads

Twitter now actively promotes certain tweets, recognisable by the words “Promoted by” that appear before the tweet. Other than these words, these promoted tweets look virtually the same as natural tweets.

Other forms of Native Advertising

Brands are constantly finding new ways to integrate their message into interesting content. Native video ads and advertorials are other examples of native advertising. Native video advertising is essentially video content made to look like it is produced independently but in fact promotes a brand in subtle ways. Advertorials are not new to the print publishing industry, with first examples of sponsored editorial content appearing in magazines decades ago.

Objectives of Native Advertising

There are generally two main objectives of native advertising campaigns:

  1. Using a specific type of content to align a brand with a certain message, trend or celebrity;
  2. Targeting a consumer when they are most likely to engage with a brand or product, such as in Search Advertising (SEM).

Advantages of Native Advertising

The traditional ‘transmitting’ approach to advertising, where brands saw consumers as simply passive receivers of a message rather than active creators, is no longer relevant in the digital age. Consumers have become cynical about the claims of advertisers in overt campaigns due to the highly curated nature of ad content. Native advertising hides ads amongst engaging content, so consumers are less likely to view the ad with scepticism, as they trust and engage with the content around it. Engaging content makes an ad appear less overt and thus less dubious. The chameleon-like characteristics of native advertising have two strong advantages:

  1. The ads are more likely to be read, viewed and heard;
  2. The consumer’s trust in the publisher often extends to trust in the brand.