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Native Advertising: A Foolproof Guide You Need in 2024

Mar 06, 202410 min read
Marharyta Kaplia
Marharyta Kaplia, Head of Content, AdTech Expert

Are you still not familiar with native advertising? No, don’t you dare to say that because native ads, the most immersive ad experience, overtook display ads during the last 10 years. But if “What does native advertising mean?” is the first question coming to your mind when you see this big title above, then you’re in the right place.

More and more ad tech players are switching to native advertising solutions these days. The reason is as simple as that: native ads provide a better user experience, don't distract visitors, and blend perfectly into a website's content. It leads to better conversion rates and helps to increase ad revenues. But what does ad nativity really mean? Buckle up as we're diving deeper into the native advertising realms.

What Is Native Advertising? Native Advertising Definition

Native advertising is a strategic marketing approach that prioritizes delivering relevant and valuable content to the target audience in an unobtrusive manner. It means you integrate the content into the user experience, mirroring the look and feel of the platform it appears on.

Also, native advertising refers to "sponsored content" or "promoted posts." Yet, unlike traditional display ads that may disrupt the user experience, native ads blend harmoniously with the webpage, creating a more natural and engaging interaction.

Here, we can't ignore the elephant in the room. The question is, "How does an ad become native?" That's tricky stuff because often, "nativity" is simply coloring the CTA button to match the publisher's website design. However, there are a lot more ways to make the ads native apart from that banality, so keep reading.

Just a Bit of Native Advertising History

Native advertising history is as fascinating as Marvel’s movies of phase three. It started in the early days of print media when advertorials, a blend of advertising and editorial content, became super popular. Over time, native advertising has taken on various forms and mediums. So now you can remember various examples of native advertising, such as sponsored content, branded videos, influencer collaborations, and product placements.

The internet and social media have fueled the expansion of native advertising. As traditional display ads started losing effectiveness, brands began seeking new ways to engage with their audience. Digital native advertising emerged as a means for advertisers to put their messages into the content people consume online naturally.

Native Advertising Statistics

Now, let's take a look at some key statistics (because numbers make any article look expert and because statistics is illustrative):

  • According to Business Insider, native advertising is expected to drive 79% of all ad revenue by 2025.
  • Research by Sharethrough revealed that native ads registered a 21% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads.
  • In a survey conducted by IAB, 82% of marketers agreed that native advertising provided better brand lift, engagement, and overall user experience.
native advertising ad spending

Types of Native Advertising

There are as many types of native advertising as the stars on the sky, but we’ll focus on the most effective and popular ones:

In-feed Native Ads

In-feed ads are perhaps the most common type of native advertising. You might find in-feed native ads on any news website, Facebook news feed, or your favorite “match three” or puzzle games.

in-feed native ads

Sponsored Content

Although we see “native advertising vs sponsored content” searches in Google, it’s just another form of native advertising aiming to present branded content organically. These examples of native advertising can include articles, videos, or other forms of content that provide value to the reader while promoting a specific product or service. Remember Buzzfeed's sponsored listicles or informative blog posts among all their hilarious quizzes? It's one of the examples.

Recommendation Widgets

Often, you can find recommendation widgets at the end of articles or blog posts. They use algorithms to offer related content the reader might be interested in. You might have encountered "You May Also Like" sections on websites such as CNN or The New York Times, which offer additional articles or sponsored content based on your browsing habits.

native ads recommendations widget

Promoted Listings

Promoted listings are prevalent in e-commerce platforms and marketplaces. These native ads appear alongside regular listings with featured placements. For instance, on Amazon, sponsored products appear above or alongside organic search results, making them more visible to potential buyers.

native ads promoted listings

Native In-app Advertising

Native mobile advertising focuses on inserting promotional content in the apps or games. For instance, a fitness app might display sponsored healthy eating tips or workout videos. Similarly, in-game advertising can take the form of branded billboards, product placement, or sponsored in-game challenges.

native in-app advertising

Benefits of Native Advertising

Native advertising has proven to be a valuable tool for marketers. Whether in-feed ads, sponsored content, or native in-app ads, the possibilities for brands to connect with their audience through native ads are vast. Thus, let’s check some of the many benefits native ads provide:

Improved User Engagement and Higher CTRs

Native advertising CTR is 2x times higher compared to traditional display ads. As native ads are designed to blend in with the surrounding content, they’re less intrusive. By matching the platform's look, feel, and tone, native ads grab the attention of users who are more likely to interact with them. As a result, businesses can expect higher engagement rates.

Enhanced Brand Visibility

Native ads offer an opportunity for brands to increase their visibility in a subtle yet effective manner. They help to avoid banner blindness as branded content matches the natural flow of a user's browsing experience. As users engage with the content they are already interested in, they simultaneously expose themselves to the brand behind the ad. This increased exposure helps to foster brand awareness and recognition.

Building Trust and Credibility

By providing content that aligns with a user's interests, needs, or preferences, native ads earn the audience's trust. When done right, native ads can be viewed as informative or entertaining content rather than blatant promotional material. This trust and credibility translate into increased brand loyalty and a positive brand image.

Targeted Audience Reach

One of native advertising benefits is the ability to reach a highly targeted audience. Unlike traditional ads with a broader reach, native ads can be strategically placed on platforms where the target audience is more likely to be present. This targeted approach ensures the right message is delivered to the right people at the right time. Thus, businesses optimize their ad spend and maximize ROI by reaching a specific audience segment.

Better Ad Relevance

Native ads offer higher ad relevance, as they are specifically crafted to match the surrounding content and the interests of the target audience. Consequently, users are more likely to perceive native ads as a helpful resource rather than an interruption.

native advertising benefits

Native Advertising: Challenges and Considerations

It would be very irresponsible of us not to warn you about the challenges you might face before you start your native advertising campaigns. So, let’s explore the ethical and practical considerations that all of you, my fellow marketers (and consumers), should be aware of.

Balancing Transparency and Integration

This is probably one of the main challenges of native advertising. You have to find the delicate balance between transparency and integration. While native ads are designed to integrate seamlessly into the user experience, it's critical to ensure that users can differentiate them from editorial content.

So it doesn't matter if you're a publisher or advertiser – you can maintain that transparency and build trust with the audience. All you need to do is to clearly label native advertisements as such for users to understand when they are consuming promotional content.

Native Advertising Ethics

Ethical considerations surrounding native advertising revolve around issues of disclosure and honesty. They eagerly try to give a clear answer to the question, “How do you spot native advertising.”

Some argue that native advertising blurs the line between advertising and genuine content, making it difficult for readers to distinguish between them. Thus, marketers should disclose that content is sponsored and provide clear attribution to brands.

Do so and safeguard your brand reputation.

Native Advertising vs. Editorial Content

Differentiating between native advertising and editorial content is quite a challenge because both may share similar characteristics. While native ads aim to blend in perfectly, it's crucial to maintain a clear distinction between the two.

First and foremost, native advertising should not compromise the editorial integrity of a platform. Second, content creators should avoid misleading their audience. A clear separation between sponsored and editorial content saves the platform's credibility.

Ad Blockers and Native Ads

Ad blockers create another obstacle for native advertising. They help users eliminate unwanted advertising, including native ads, thus affecting their reach.

The only way out here is to create native ads that deliver value and incentivize users to turn off ad blockers selectively.

Potential for Deceptive Practices

And, of course, there is a potential for deceptive practices in native advertising. If not implemented ethically, native ads may mislead users with overly promotional or biased content. One recommendation here: strive for authenticity and ensure that native ads provide valuable information that aligns with users' interests.

FTC Native Advertising Guidelines

This topic kinda follows from the previous one as a logical answer to potential consumer deception. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established guidelines to ensure transparency and protect consumers from misleading advertising practices.

The key principle of the FTC's guidelines is that advertising should be identifiable as such to consumers. The agency requires clear and conspicuous disclosures to prevent consumers from being misled or confused about the nature of the content they are engaging with. So, any marketer has to make those in a manner that is easily noticeable, understandable, and prominent.

To meet these requirements, the FTC suggests putting disclosures near the native ad or sponsored content. Additionally, disclosures should use language that is straightforward and unambiguous, leaving no room for misunderstanding.

Key Elements of Jaw-Dropping Native Ads

Any ad is almost like a game where you bet to win the user’s attention, but even if everything seems perfect on your native ad creative, you might lose. However, there are some universal things you can check to stay on the safe side (at least, to make your native advertising strategy follow ethical rules and catch a bit of your user’s glances):

key elements of native advertising
  • Seamless integration – native advertising should blend in with the surrounding content. It should match the format and design of the platform to provide a cohesive user experience.
  • Relevancy – native ads should be highly relevant to the target audience, so make sure you adapt the ads to your audience's interests and preferences.
  • Value-driven content – providing value to the audience is a must. The content should enrich the user's involvement, whether entertaining, educational, or informative.
  • Transparency – check if your native ads are transparent about their nature. The users appreciate honesty and authenticity, so clearly labeling native ads as such builds trust and credibility.
  • Storytelling – use a native advertising strategy as a possibility to tell a compelling story. Using storytelling techniques, you can create emotional connections with the audience, increasing ERs and CTRs.

Native Advertising Best Practices

Now that we have covered the key elements of native advertising, let's explore some best practices to ensure successful campaigns:

  • Research your target audience – it sounds boring, but it’s a rule you have to follow for creating effective native ads. Conduct market research, analyze demographics, and identify their preferences and behaviors to tailor your content accordingly.
  • Collaborate with publishers – collaborating with publishers who have expertise in native advertising is a wise choice. They can help you optimize your content for their platform and provide guidance based on their audience insights.
  • Focus on quality content – high-quality content is essential for success. Create content that aligns with your brand voice and resonates with your target audience.
  • Test and optimize – native advertising requires constant testing and optimization. Monitor the performance of your campaigns, gather feedback, and make data-driven adjustments to boost their effectiveness.
  • Maintain ethical standards – self-explanatory but be transparent and avoid misleading or deceptive tactics. Building trust with your audience is essential for long-term success.

Bored yet? Brace yourself for a bit more useful native advertising stuff below.

Who Benefits From Native Advertising?

We’re almost there! Believe me, now I’ll mention some key players who benefit from native advertising, after you’ll read a bit of text, and done.

Just for you not to be bored too much (thank you for staying till this point, by the way) we have a concise table:

Publishers Brands Advertisers
Better user experience Improved user engagement Higher ROI
Higher CTR and ER Targeted reach Enhanced Content Discoverability
Diversified revenue streams Higher credibility and trust Optimized for mobile users
Enhanced ad relevance Cross-channel integration Access to premium inventory

Native Advertising Trends

Last but not least: native ads won’t cease into the abyss because the latest advertising trends prove the opposite:

Integration of AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning integration is probably one of the most promising native advertising trends. These technologies have revolutionized the way brands target and deliver their native ads. By using AI algorithms and machine learning, advertisers can analyze vast amounts of data to identify the most relevant content for each user, guaranteeing the highest level of personalization.

Video Content Dominance

Another key native advertising trend is video content supremacy. Modern people's attention spans are shorter than ever, so there's nothing strange, while videos have 7.5 times higher CTR than usual static advertising. So, investing in video production and creating compelling native ads will help to captivate a bigger audience.

Personalization and Customization

Personalization and customization have become buzzwords in marketing, and native advertising is no exception. Customization goes beyond just the content of the native ad. Brands also experiment with different ad formats and placements to create a more personalized and immersive user experience.

Native Advertising in Emerging Technologies

As technology continues to evolve, so does native advertising. AR and VR technologies offer new opportunities for brands to engage with consumers. Native advertising in AR and VR takes the concept of seamless integration to the next level. By placing native ads within immersive virtual environments, you can create highly memorable and impactful user experiences.

Imagine trying on virtual clothes and seeing native ads for complementary accessories or exploring virtual destinations and encountering native ads for travel experiences. These immersive experiences capture users' attention and allow brands to establish a stronger emotional connection with their audience.

Wrapping Up

Here we are, folks, you’ve made it! Now you know almost everything about native advertising and, of course, it’ll be easier for you to master it.

If you want your business to thrive, it’s worth giving a shot to native ads in the Epom ad server – easy to set up, super-effective, fully guided by our dedicated team!

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