In-Feed Native Advertising Explained

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 a publisher’s property. 

The premise is:

1. Deliver a native ad as a part of user experience
2. Match the format (look and feel) of the ad unit to the publishers content
3. Prominently disclose the native ad as Sponsored or Promoted content

The in-feed native ad format was adopted by large technology players like Facebook, Twitter, and 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 the emergence of mobile, the trend of organizing content in a ‘feed’ format spilt over to the publishing industry. More publishers started adopting the ‘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 the ‘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.

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In-feed native advertising has emerged as a solution to 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 by a Publisher’s Editorial Team in Collaboration With a Brand

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2. The Second Most Common Form of In-Feed Native Ads Takes the User Off of the Publisher Site to the Branded Content Being Promoted. Static In-Feed Native Ads Take the User Off-Site to the Brand Page

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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.

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