Did you know?
Native advertising spend made up almost 65% of all US digital display ad spends in 2020.
This makes it one of the fastest growing formats on the market.
And if you’re not doing native advertising, you’re missing out.
But I’ve got you covered. In this guide, I’ll go over everything you need to know to get started.
Discover the Answers to the Following Questions:
What is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is a form of paid advertising. But it functions differently than traditional paid advertising.
Native advertising uses written content and is essentially an ad that’s disguised as original content.
Like traditional PPC ads in the Google SERPs, they’ve clearly labeled “ad,” and are still interspersed with other non-ad content in the results.
Native advertising takes the same principles as these other ads and inserts them into written content.
In a magazine, a native advertising example might appear as another article but is actually an advertisement. It fits seamlessly into the content that surrounds it, which is why it’s often mistaken for actual content.
Native advertisements are usually presented in one of three ways:
- In-feed ads: ads that appear in social network news feeds (think Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- Search & promoted listings: ads appear at the top or sidebar of the Google SERPs
- Content recommendations: ads appear as recommended articles
Why is Native Advertising Effective?
The reason why native advertising has proven to be so effective is that they are usually better received by their target audiences.
Because they don’t “feel” like advertisements, people are more inclined to view them and consume their content.
Traditional ads are easy to ignore, as people are constantly exposed to marketing ads throughout the day. Because people don’t skim over native ads so easily, they allow brands a greater opportunity to get their message across.
In order to keep up with the changing digital landscape, brands are embracing content marketing and/or native advertising as the means for getting their marketing messages across.
Over time, consumers have learned how to “tune out” unwanted ads and marketing messages.
You can see the evidence of this in the growth of ad-blocking software, as well as subscription models (Spotify, Pandora, etc.) that allow consumers to pay a higher fee in order to disable advertisements.
The old way of forcing marketing messages is no longer as effective, leading many marketers to opt for native advertising instead.
How is Native Advertising Different From Content Marketing? (and Sometimes Controversial)
What are native ads compared to content marketing?
The main difference between these two is that native advertising is a “pay to play” service.
Brands pay for the ability to put their content in places where they think their target audience will find it.
Content marketing focuses on owned media, rather than paying to place it somewhere.
Content marketing is not advertising, while native advertising very much is.
So, if it’s a format designed to look like non-promotional content, how can users tell it apart?
Generally, it will either contain markers like “sponsored post,” “promoted post,” or something similar, as in the example below.
Or, it will have a small clickable icon that separates it from non-promotional content, like the native ad below.
Some Native Advertising Statistics
- Viewers spend nearly the same amount of time reading editorial content and native ads — 2 seconds and 1 second, respectively.
- 93% of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising.
- Native ads increase purchase intent by 18%, according to Outbrain
- US advertisers will spend almost $95 billion dollars on native ads in 2022—$15 billion more than they did last year.
- The CTR is 1% greater for the pets, food & drink, and family & parenting categories.
- When it comes to branded content versus traditional advertising close to 90% of younger internet users prefer personalized, educational content, including native advertising.
- Native ads have a CTR of 8.8 times higher than classic display ads.
- Native ads have a 53% higher viewability than classic display ads.
- Every 6 out of 10 digital ads are native advertising.
How Does Native Advertising Work?
First, a brand pays to place its content on native advertising platforms of its choosing.
Just like any other advertising venture, picking the correct platform is a crucial step.
This could be on a specific social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, or on a different platform like Google or a third-party site.
Next, the content is created to mimic the look and feel of the content that surrounds it on the platform. What brands are actually paying for is the ability to “rent” the platform for their own distribution.
Once the content’s approved, it’s tagged with a “warning” of sorts that may say something like “Advertisement” or “Paid Advertisement.”
This creates some transparency within the native advertising platform and the user, so they know ahead of time that the content they’re looking at paid to be there.
What is the Goal of Native Advertising?
To put it simply, native advertising is another place to put your content in front of the right people.
With so much content being produced these days, it’s getting even more difficult to find the right pockets of consumers that your content is serving. Another one of the benefits of native advertising is that it helps eliminate that guessing game and puts your content directly into spots where your audience is most likely to read it.
How Can You Tell It’s Native Advertising?
For the trained eye, it’s easy to spot an ad.
- Do the words “Suggested Post” or “Recommended For You” appear anywhere on the content?
- Check the upper right-hand corner of the content block. Is there a small icon with a question mark and an X?
- Is the word “sponsored” on the post?
- Does it have a sponsorship credit anywhere on the block — i.e. “Sponsored by Ignite Visibility”?
- Is it recommended or suggested?
If so, you’re probably looking at native content.
How Does Native Advertising Look On Mobile?
Like any other type of digital marketing, you should ensure your native ads are mobile-friendly.
Using native direct ads through an app is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Developers don’t mind them since they appear as part of their app. Unlike traditional advertising mediums, native advertisements offer a minimal perceived disruption to their user.
Users enjoy them for the same reason: they don’t like ads. But they do like content.
Take a look at your Twitter feed. As you’re scrolling through, you’ll see tweets from the people you follow. You chose those people because you’re interested in their content and what they have to say. But targeted native ads are positioned throughout those Tweets. Since your brain thinks it’s reading through Tweets from people you’ve already selected, your mind just continues to read over the suggested content.
Native advertisements can also adjust their look whenever an app’s interface upgrades or changes. If an app updates its look, it’s important for the designers of the advertisement to do the same. Through keeping up with the selected mobile application, native marketing designers keep their content fresh and constantly popping up in front of the right consumer.
Native Advertising Examples
Here are a few native advertising examples that you may have seen before.
#1 – Guinness Beer
Here’s a native advertising example that the beer company Guinness created.
This is an older ad, but it is still an important example of native advertising and how it works.
The idea is to provide some information on oysters, while also using the same ad space to sell Guinness Beer. If you look closely, you’ll see that the ad implies that these oysters would all be much better if they were enjoyed with the exact type of beer that Guinness shows in the final frame of the ad.
#2 – Dell Computers
Here’s another native advertising example along the same lines, this time from Dell.
While the title is suggestive of an article about today’s changing workplace, it’s actually a clever example of using relevant content to sell a product without immediately losing that relevance.
It’s definitely conceivable that a millennial (Dell’s target consumer) could read this native ad’s content and be that much more inclined to purchase a Dell computer.
#3 — H&R Block
The popular satirical news site known as The Onion ran sponsored content for H&R Block.
One is a comical post about people not wanting to complete their tax forms. The company ran a native advertisement for H&R Block without a call to action. With a simple banner for the tax preparation company located at the top of the page, readers were unlikely to click on it.
#4 — Land Rover
Creating a short, suspenseful film that was a little over 6 minutes long, Land Rover has had huge success with native advertising.
Using Dragon Challenge as its native advertising platform, Land Rover released a nail-biting ad showing their famous Range Rover SUV attempting to climb the Heaven’s Gate landmark in China. With 999 steps to scale at a daunting 45-degree angle, viewers couldn’t look away.
This ad is a great example of how easily native advertising can put your content right in front of your target consumer.
#5 — Taco Bell
Everyone loves a good filter, right?
This is what Taco Bell did when they introduced their taco-face filter. While this is a fun filter for people to take silly pictures with, it is also a pretty effective way to advertise without being too obvious.
These types of AR filter ads are available on Snapchat and Instagram. Many brands have already taken advantage of this interesting feature.
#6 — Spotify
When Netflix was launching their hit show, Stranger Things, they used native advertising on Spotify to promote it.
When Spotify users logged into their account, they had the option to put their account in Stranger Things mode. This changed the background images of the platform and assigned them a playlist based on original show characters.
This was a highly effective way to advertise the premiere of Stranger Things without feeling like an advertisement.
What is an Example of Ineffective Native Advertising?
Let’s look at one more example. A not-so-successful example.
Many widely criticized this notorious ad from the Church of Scientology for promoting the church while appearing to look like a normal piece of native content published by The Atlantic.
This highlights an important criticism of native advertising: that many use it as a sneaky way to prompt your agenda.
The Atlantic took a lot of heat for this native ad and eventually took it down altogether.
The lesson learned here? Make sure your ad matches the platform it appears on. The Atlantic suffered because it ran an ad preaching a subject its readers didn’t care about–and because it blended into the site’s usual content, it was easy to think the publication was simply running an article to support Scientology, rather than hosting an ad.
As mentioned earlier, the first step in successful native advertising is choosing the proper channel. Make sure you do so wisely.
How Do SEO and Native Advertising Fit Together?
How do search engine optimization and native advertising fit together? Like this.
With content marketing generating more exposure for brands, the driving theory is that SEO is moving away from explicit link-building, and more towards a content marketing approach.
And because native ads mimic content, they’re likely to drive more exposure.
For small businesses with a strong SEO and social media base, native advertising would be well worth experimenting with.
I think of native advertising a bit like guest posting, but without the outright benefit of links. Native ads are simply another place for you to get your content into the hands of the right audience.
FAQs on Native Advertising:
1. Is native advertising more effective than content marketing?
Short answer: no.
While it certainly has its advantages, it’s not meant to replace content marketing. Native advertising is typically a one-time thing; it’s a great way to introduce yourself and your business to an audience, and to give them a reason to dig deeper into what it is you offer.
Content marketing, on the other hand, is all about the long haul. It’s meant to solidify a brand’s reputation and create an ongoing relationship with customers through different media and channels (which could include native advertising.)
2. Are there different native advertising formats?
Yes, there are different formats, including:
- In-feed ads: promote sponsored content in natural feeds
- Recommendation widgets: these appear at the end of articles in the “recommended for you” or “you may also like” sections
- Promoted listings: used to promote sponsored products and appear with other listings
- Paid search ads: similar to promoted listings, but appear at the top of search results
3. Is native advertising affected by AdBlocks?
One advantage of native ads is that they rarely get caught in adblocking software. This, of course, is because they’re served along with regular content.
Most ads that get caught by ad blocks are ones that are flagged as overly annoying or intrusive. However, in February 2018, Google blocked certain ads in the Chrome browser, including some native ads.
4. How do you measure native advertising?
Just like other digital marketing channels, you can measure native advertising’s effectiveness in terms of data. You can measure impressions, click-through rate, clicks, etc. There are tools created specifically to track your native ad analytics, such as SpyOver and Parse.ly.
5. Can a user tell if they’re clicking on a native ad?
Not necessarily. In fact, studies have shown that consumers often identify native ads as articles. That same study revealed some other interesting facts about native ads:
- Consumers often have a difficult time identifying the brand associated with a piece of native advertising (but it varies)
- Consumers who read native ads that they identified as high quality reported a significantly higher level of trust for the sponsoring brand.
- 48 percent have felt deceived upon realizing a piece of content was sponsored by a brand
6. Why should you use native advertising?
There are four stages of a sales funnel: attract, convert, close, and delight.
The attract stage is when people are first introduced to your content. While this might seem like the appropriate place to utilize the benefits of native advertising, it actually isn’t.
The proper time to execute native ads is somewhere between the convert and close stages. You want to target people who are already familiar with your brand and who may have already consumed your products/services in the past.
7. How can I start using native advertising?
Now that you understand the theory behind native advertising, you probably want to put this new knowledge into practice.
If you have already begun a strong content marketing campaign, congratulations! You’re already on your way to native advertising.
The next step is to take these engaging stories that you have created for your brand and pay native advertising platforms to promote them. Research the best native ad vendors in your industry and collect pricing information and offers from them. Once you decide on the right platform to reach your target audience, you can utilize your existing native content to run a profitable native advertising campaign.
Native Advertising in the Future
Native advertising is exploding in popularity.
I think that most brands can benefit from using native advertising as a tactic, but it shouldn’t inform your whole online marketing strategy. Anything that allows you to get your content in front of the right audience is something you should embrace.
It will be interesting to see how native advertising influences the way we consume content in the future.