When we start diving into the topics of native advertising, it comes as no surprise that the fundamental question that needs to be answered first is: “What is a native ad?”; and this is the question that we’ll kick off our series with. First, let’s try to distinguish two similar sounding terms—native advertising versus a native ad.
- Native advertising is a strategy to seamlessly present branded content to a consumer
- Native ad is the product of the strategy
Native Ad is a paid advertisement that resembles the form of the content that appears on the publisher property or a platform. As a strategy Native Advertising is largely dominated by content-driven message from an advertiser. An advertiser produces branded content (articles, videos etc.) or works with a publisher’s editorial staff to develop sponsored content, and then seeks ways to distribute it to reach the target audience. (Stay tuned for follow up posts to learn more about the difference between Branded and Sponsored content). To get the content in front of the target audience, an advertiser can approach Native Advertising in two forms of the ad units:
- Distribute branded content through snippets of content preview natively integrated in the publisher’s site or a platform
- Integrate sponsored content entirely on the publisher’s property
Here is an example of an ad (content preview) on a social media platform. Volkswagen works with Twitter to drive users to their content hub:
Content snippets are called in-stream native ads. Here is an example of this unit from ContactMonkey on a publisher’s property:
Here is the ad that comes in a form of sponsored content that is fully integrated in the publisher property. GE works with The Economist in this example:
To summarize, a native ad, regardless of where the content is hosted, is an advertisement that preserves the ‘look and feel’ and closely aligns with the property that it is displayed on.
Native advertising is a way to present either entire sponsored content or a snippet of the branded content. The fundamental differentiator of native advertising is that unlike other forms of disruptive advertising (think popup ads, or page takeovers), it presents advertiser’s message without interrupting user experience on the site or platform.