StackAdapt Academy

Develop stronger strategies, make smarter decisions.

The Definitive Guide to In-Feed Native Ads

Aug 13, 2015 / by Stefanie Neyland


Like all breeds of native advertising, in-feed ads are most effective when they align with how a user naturally interacts with a site. But there are three distinct types of in-feed ad units, and each one of them is designed to achieve a very different goal. Today, we’re going to give you the lowdown on each of them.


As native advertising gains momentum, the language associated with it is beginning to fall behind. The term “native” as a marketing buzzword has now grown to encompass an assortment of categories, leading to industry-wide confusion.


One issue we’ll be shedding some light on today pertains to in-feed ad units and the constituent varieties this broad term encompasses.


There are several categories of in-feed native ads that are designed to fit deftly within a consumer’s natural activity stream, and understanding the characteristics of each of them is crucial. Not only does it help guide creative decisions, but it also gives buyers a contextual understanding of their ads on a given type of feed. After all, what may work in one place may be less impactful—or altogether unsuitable—somewhere else.


So without further ado, let’s delve deeper into the three main categories of in-feed ad units according to the type of feed they're traditionally found on.


1. In-Feed Content Ads

As the name suggests, content feed ads are those located within a website’s standard content stream, and are generally found on publisher content and news aggregation sites. Oftentimes the content will have been created by or in collaboration with the publisher’s editorial team to ensure that the ad matches the stories around it.

Primary ad unit types: articles, images, videos.

Buzzfeed’s sponsored content


2. In-Feed Product Ads

Native product feed ads appear in sites and apps that display product listings (think retail sites like Amazon and eBay). Typically these ad units are presented as product advertisements or app install prompts, and they almost always incorporate a very clear call-to-action.

Primary ad unit types: Product or service ads, app installs.

Amazon and Facebook’s in-feed sponsored products


3. In-Feed Social Ads

In-feed social ad units are designed to build a stronger following, boost social engagement and drive high-quality, targeted consumers to your content. The purpose of native advertising is to deliver content that shares the look and feel of a site—and in-feed social ads do exactly this. Facebook is calling them “suggested posts” and Twitter is calling them “promoted tweets”, but whatever moniker they’re given, they operate in the same way and are best explained by the examples that follow.

Primary ad unit types: Business posts, user posts, articles, photos and videos.

Facebook and Instagram’s in-feed social ads

When it comes down to it, whether the marketing message is delivered through content, product or social feeds, the mission is always the same: to deliver paid ads that are so cohesive with a site’s content and design that viewers feel like they simply belong.

So the challenge isn’t necessarily in deciding which feed is best to serve the content, it’s in creating quality content that users actually want to read. The function of the ad unit and the feed in which it’s delivered may be ideal for the customer, but if they don’t click, your efforts will be wasted.


Next week we'll be sharing our top tips for creating compelling content that your customers won't be able to resist—now there's a post you don't want to miss!

Topics: Insider, Blog Posts, Featured, Resources, FAQ

Request Invite
[fa icon="home"]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter