What Is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is the concept of creating ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer feels the ad belongs there.
Promoted search results and sponsored social media posts are popular examples of native ads. Both formats provide the same kind of value to users as the organic search results and user-generated social media posts.
As consumers become more resistant to traditional forms of advertising, including display ads and banner ads, Fortune 500 brands and consumer startups alike are allocating bigger budgets and more ad spend towards content marketing and non-disruptive ad formats.
The global market for native ads is expected to reach over $402B in annual revenue by 2025.
How do Native Ads Work?
Native ads, a tactic that supports performance marketing, work in terms of supply and demand. On the supply side are publishers, with an audience and reach, looking to monetize their sites. On the demand side are advertisers looking to reach an audience and hit goals around awareness, sales, or lead generation.
When a user visits a website with ad space, a publisher’s SSP sends a bid request to a DSP which sends back an advertiser’s bid and metadata metrics. The advertiser with the winning bid has their ad shown to the user.
Which Ads are Native and What Do They Look Like?
At the very core of native ads is the concept of placing ads in a relevant and unobstructive context where they natively fit. Native advertising is most likely to look just like all other articles and pieces of content around it, and especially in cases where the goal is brand awareness, you may not see some of the common words you’re accustomed to seeing in advertisements (purchase, subscribe, sign up, etc). See examples of native ads.
Native Advertising Channels
Whether its run manually or programmatically, native advertising runs across:
Engines like Google pioneered an entirely new form of “native” with their sponsored search results.
Social networks like Facebook and Instagram popularized native in-feed and carousel ad formats.
Content discovery platforms like Taboola power personalized content recommendations and in-feed native ads across popular publisher websites.
Who Benefits From Native Advertising?
Fortune 500 brands and fledgling startups alike use native ads to reach audiences at highly impactful moments, when people are already consuming content and open to discovering something new. These campaigns can maximize ad spend and drive goals around high-level brand awareness as well as down-funnel leads and sales.
Publishers have embraced native ads as an indispensable tool in monetizing content across platforms and devices. Opt-in native units encourage valuable user actions without sacrificing the overall UX, driving users to high-value pages such as video, sponsored content, microsites, and more.
Native ads avoid the disruptive pitfalls of pop-up or pre-roll ads in favor of a more respectful bargain with users, allowing people to discover and engage with branded content they may like on their own terms.
How to Choose the Right Native Advertising Platform?
In order to maximize the return on any given native advertising initiative, many publishers and advertisers team up with technology partners that can help with aspects such as content distribution, audience engagement, cross-platform monetization, and more.
In particular, content discovery platforms like Taboola have skyrocketed in popularity.
They reach billions of users each month and rival the scale of major social networks. These discovery platforms are powered by Facebook-like predictive algorithms that match every online user with the top content items they are most likely to be interested in consuming next.
Check out the list of requirements for choosing the right content discovery platform.
Quality of networkAcross what kinds of websites and/or page placements is the platform currently deployed?
TrackingDoes the platform provide transparent access to key performance metrics? (e.g. cost-per-acquisition, pages-per-visit, viewable impressions, conversions)
ScaleHow many users does the platform reach in your target regions?
CompatibiltyHow well can the platform integrate with various hardware and software solutions? (e.g. devices, operating systems, CRM software)
TargetingWhat kinds of targeting and retargeting capabilities does the platform offer? (e.g. behavioral, demographic, B2B, B2C)
ServiceDoes the partner offer a flexible range of self-service and account management support?
Bidding ModelsIs the CPC bid set manually for auctions or can the CPC be adjusted to optimize for conversions? Are other models offered like CPA, CPV or CPM?
Auction ModelsAre auctions transparent? What kinds of auctions are available?
What Native Units Are Best For You?
Every ad unit performs differently depending on factors such as page placement, audience referral source, and desired post-click behavior. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are some formats that perform well for publishers and advertisers alike, generating a high number of impressions and conversions.
The most impactful option for brand awareness and thought leadership campaigns. Prominent homepage placements generate premium CPCs for publishers and enable advertisers to build trust with audiences through association with the day’s leading editorial headlines.
Maximize the value of transient visitors by engaging their curiosity before they click away or return to their social feed. Especially powerful on mobile, mid-article units enable brands to achieve full-screen exposure and publishers to monetize a greater portion of their traffic (through higher viewability rates).
Recommended for performance advertisers, below-article placements reach audiences at a highly-valuable moment when they have just finished consuming a piece of content and are open to discovering something new. These users report higher post-click engagement than any other referral source (incl. search and social).
Native Advertising Opportunities
Native ads hold a great deal of potential benefits for advertisers, publishers, and users.
Advertisers can reach audiences at highly impactful moments, when users are open to discovering something new.
Publishers are able to monetize their sites without sacrificing a quality user experience.
Users can avoid the disruptive nature of display ads and banner ads, instead engaging with the branded content they might like on their own terms.