Introduction to Native Advertising
Native Advertising is strategically interruptive and meaningful, giving more context and content to an advertisement. This allows the user to relate to the advertiser’s brand further.
Native ads appear in the natural form and function of the viewed platform. The ad has to match the design of the experience (form) and must be consistent with the user experience of other content in the environment (function). By far, one of the most popular forms of native advertising takes place in social media. With platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, advertisers can easily insert their ads into the user experience. However, Social capabilities are just one form of native advertising. Others include Paid Search, Recommendation Widgets, Promoted Listings, Native Content and Custom Content.
- In- Feed Native Ads: In- feed ads are probably the most popular form of native advertising. They take on the exact form of organic posts and content, and usually appear in a storytelling environment. Examples of platforms that contain in- feed ads include Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter.
- Paid Search: Paid search listings, one of the oldest forms of native advertising, are displayed above organic search listings across various engines. These listings can be enhanced by location extensions, click to call buttons, reviews and other additions making the ad more personable. Examples of platforms that contain paid search ads include Google and Yahoo/Bing.
- Recommendation Widgets: Widgets don’t necessarily take on the exact form of the page or environment but they include listings and links of related content the user may be interested in. These selections are usually contextually related to content the user is currently viewing. The links are designated by language such as “Recommended for you” or “You may also like”. Examples of native advertising in the form of widgets can be found on various web pages.
- Promoted Listings: Promoted listings are similar to in- feed ads in the sense that they fit precisely into the current user environment. Usually, promoted listings showcase products or services. The ads are highly targeted, and also contextually relevant to the user’s interests and most recent searches. Examples of platforms that promote listings are Amazon and Google.
- Native Content: Often confused with Sponsored Content, this form of native allows the advertiser to sponsor content on sites. This content is usually executed through advertorials, sponsored hubs and slideshows. Examples of sites that incorporate native content include Web MD and Buzzfeed.
- Custom Content: Custom Content is inclusive of everything else in between, and also takes cues from other forms of advertising. Custom content is usually achieved when the advertiser and publisher team up to present the content. This can include sponsored playlist, custom audio stations and video. The user experience usually exceeds that of the norm, bringing fresh native content that is eye-catching and engaging. Examples of platforms which would likely include custom content are Pandora, Spotify and Flipboard.
So, why Native? It’s freeing. Native advertising allows brands to shake things up. They’re no longer limited to monotonous IAB standard sizes or: 30 pre-roll. This form of advertising also tells a story and adds a narrative. If a user is forced to click through to learn more about a brand, it’s a hit or miss. Native provides a preview of what’s to come, and entices the user to learn more. According to Sharethrough.com, users viewed native ads 52% more than banner ads. The same source also reports that native ads register a 9% higher lift for brand affinity, and 18% higher lift for purchase intent. In conclusion, native advertising can be a great enhancement to current advertising strategy while executing a natural user experience.