In-feed native advertising (often referred to as 'In-stream native advertising') is one of the forms of native advertising to deliver a preview of branded content amongst other stories on publisher's property. The premise is:
- Deliver native ad as a part of user experience
- Match the format (look and feel) of the ad unit to the publishers content
- Prominently disclose native ad as Sponsored or Promoted content
In-feed native ad format was adopted by large technology players like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to seamlessly present content (be that user generated or sponsored content) to users. Such form of delivery was particularly successful in a context of 'infinite scroll', a dominant format in presenting content in social media networks.
With emergence of mobile, the trend of organizing content in a 'feed' format spilled over to publishing industry. More publishers started adopting 'feed' format as a way to deliver stories on their properties. From Forbes and Gawker, to CollegeHumor and 9gag, publishers are actively pushing responsive design to bring 'feed' format to their mobile sites and apps.
As 'feed' delivery of content starts to pick up, publishers realize that banner advertising simply doesn't work as a monetization channel. Banners disrupt user experience when inserted in between content, and they still don't address the challenge of delivering rich experiences for consumers on mobile.
In-feed native advertising emerges as a solution a deliver branded content to users without disrupting their user experience while exponentially increasing their engagement with these ad units. Be that static or video content, both can be served in-feed.
IAB summarized all forms of in-feed native ads in their Native Advertising Playbook. The most common forms of in-feed units are:
1. In-feed summary of the Sponsored content that was produced between publisher's editorial team and a brand.
2. Second most common form on in-feed native ads, is taking user off of the publisher site to the Branded content that is promoted. Static in-feed native ad takes the user off site to the brand page while video is played in-feed while keeping user on the site. At this point there is no set standard for whether the video should be user initiated or not. While Facebook plays all videos automatically, many brand advertisers that invest in programmatic native advertising prefer having users click on the ad to initiate the view to ensure true engagement.
As more brands are investing in content strategy, in-feed advertising will continue becoming a dominant channel for content amplification for brands, and monetization strategy for publishers.