It’s hard to believe, but there is a lot of disagreement about what native advertising is exactly. It has actually been around for a long time, but the form is improving by leaps and bounds and becoming less salesy as consumers become more savvy. The idea behind native adverting is that it draws in the consumer, just as any other content you offer them. It entertains them, engages them, and offers them value – even if they don’t buy what is being offered. Native advertising can take on many forms, depending on the context of the advertising.
Forms of Native Advertising
In-Feed – This is like what you see on YouTube or Facebook when you sign on or search for something specific. It is usually labeled “sponsored,” so it’s easy to spot, but is often just like other content that your users like to consume.
Paid Search – A good example of this appears on Google Search. When you search for a keyword term, you’ll have both the unpaid and paid results appear. Paid results are at the top and to the right, and organic is everything else. They are also labeled “sponsored.”
Recommended Content – On CNN.com if you scroll down, you’ll see recommended content to read. This is usually pushed out by a company like Outbrain.com which syndicates other people’s content for a fee, and then offers it to you on other platforms. It might say “these stories are recommended for you.” Usually it’s based on what the user is already reading.
Promoted – This is common on Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube, and this form of native advertising will be listed as “promoted.” It is usually a post, a product, or a video, depending on the platform. For example, on YouTube it will be a video and on Facebook it will be a post.
In-Ad – Often these banners appear in the promoted content itself, and this form of advertising is delivered based on the content in which it appears. This can be found on YouTube when supposedly relevant ads are displayed on a video.
Custom – This is paid content delivered in a variety of ways to users by different publishers. They might be articles, guest posts, sponsorships, or other forms of advertising that do not fit in the other definitions. They aren’t very salesy in nature, and they offer value of some sort on their own to the user.
What makes an ad “native” is its ability to camouflage its true nature to the audience by being relevant, valuable, and useful to them. It is promoting a product or service that the user probably needs, so it feels less like a sales pitch. This type of advertising has been around a long time in the form of advertorials, but they’re getting more targeted and useful due to the way the internet gathers information from users. This added value has proven native advertising to be far superior to other forms of advertising.
Now technology enables marketers to get more specific about who and when such content is delivered, ensuring it’s consumed by the user at a higher rate than banner ads or traditional ads that are often ignored or avoided.