What is Native Advertising and How Does it Work?

May 4, 2018

Native advertising is an online marketing strategy which seeks to bridge the gap between brand publishing and banner ads in the sense that paid content is made to blend in with the other editorial content of a website or blog. As evident from the word “native”, the object of the advertiser is to ensure the ad becomes a “native” of the content environment where it is added so that it looks less “intrusive” for readers.

Examples of Native Advertising

Facebook has used native ads successfully by blending in sponsored page suggestions along with regular content in the news feed and sidebar. In fact native advertising is the biggest reason why Facebook has been able to generate revenue without using intrusive banner ads.

Native Advertising

Buzzfeed is another website that has used native advertising effectively to create viral content for brands. The ability of native ads going viral is another very good reason why native ads perform much better than banner ads.

buzzfeed native advertising

Does Native Advertising Work?

From advertisers experience and research, it seems native advertising is indeed working. According to a research done by Sharethrough and IPG Media Lab:

  • Consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads.
  • 25% more consumers were measured to look at in-feed native ad placements (the most common editorial native ad format) than display ad units.
  • Native ads registered 18% higher lift in purchase intent and 9% lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads
  • 32% of respondents said the native ad “is an ad I would share with a friend of family member” versus just 19% for display ads.

Native Advertising Vs. Sponsored Content

Even though many would content that native advertising is the same as sponsored content, and it is the same technically, there is a difference between the two in the sense that native advertising is “designed” to be shared more. And the rise of native advertising is attributable to the fact that we are living in the age of viral content. Felix Salmon of Reuters explains the distinction with his Native Matrix, given below.

The Native Matrix

Is Native Advertising Trickery?

If, by now, you are getting a feeling that native advertising is nothing but tricking people into seeing more ads and is misleading by it’s very definition, you are not alone. Many people argue that as native ads grow in prominence people will trust news content less. HBO comedian John Oliver is currently in news for his hilarious critique of native advertising in his show Last Week Tonight. The video has since gone viral, and for good reason. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should now.

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