What Are Native Ads? A Guide To How and Why They Work

Staff Writer
Last Updated
December 29, 2023
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Like how these chameleons blend in with their environment, native ads are the same!

Native ads by definition are paid advertisements that fit in with the regular content expected by users on the platform or media channel. Or simply put, they are paid ads that don’t look like ads.

An example of this is sponsored content posts on Facebook, or promoted listings on Google search, or even a product placement in movies.

For the purpose of this article though, we’ll be focusing on digital native adverts.

Why is Native Advertising Important?

In today’s world, ad fatigue is a real thing with advertisements being shoved in our faces wherever we turn - whether  in the real world or digital realm.

As per Newton’s third law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The same applies here, this omnipresent advertising from businesses is causing consumers to develop ad blindness or more commonly known as banner blindness.

Banner blindness causes consumers to increasingly ignore advertisements habitually or even utilise ad blocking softwares to automatically stop adverts from loading.

Needless to say, advertising has since become increasingly expensive with lower returns.

This brings us to native advertising which is loved by marketers as a tool to reverse constantly dipping return on advertising spends (ROAS) but is also controversial due to its vague nature and potential to mislead consumers.

So Why Do Native Ads Work?

Firstly and most importantly, they blend in with regular content users are consuming thus circumventing the issues of banner blindness as well as ad blockers.  

It also means this content is more likely to be relevant and useful to the consumers in order to blend with their usual content. Of course, this may not always apply as there will always be good and bad examples of ads.

Secondly, native ads do not disrupt the users’ experience on the platform or media site.

Unlike banner ads or worse pop-up adverts, native ads behave exactly like regular content so if users aren’t interested they can simply scroll past it without any negative impact.

This is significant as unlike before when companies simply spam ads to ensure people are aware of them, consumers today are far more sophisticated and a brand’s image can deteriorate rather than grow due to excessive advertising disrupting users’ experience.

Thirdly, they indicate that they are paid ads.

You might be thinking how does that help? Well, consumers don’t like to be deceived and trust is paramount in building your brand.

Not to mention, regulatory bodies and consumer protection organisations have certain requirements to ensure that consumers are not being misled.

That said, not all consumers are actually fully aware as native ads tend to avoid the word “paid” advertising but instead use terms such as “recommended videos”, “sponsored content” or “promoted stories”.

Some platforms may even avoid the terms altogether instead indicating with small icons to denote this - which is also why native ads attract controversy…

Regardless of the regulations, we always highly recommend avoiding such potentially deceptive practices which can damage your brand’s reputation.

5 Different Examples of Native Ads

So what are some native ads that you could utilise for your brand? Here are 5 commonly seen types of native ads.

  1. Online Advertorials
  2. Sponsored Content
  3. Video Advertorials
  4. In-feed Ads / Sponsored Facebook Posts / Promoted Tweets
  5. Google Search Ads

1. Online Advertorials

Like traditional print media advertorials, online advertorials are simply articles written by brands and submitted to the digital media sites for paid publishing.

Do note there is a difference between such advertorials and opinion pieces or publicity pieces such as interviews that are undertaken by the media site for free.

This is also different from content marketing which is when the business publishes their own articles.

2. Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is slightly different being written by the media but paid for by the brand.

Here’s an example from Atlantic, an sponsored content post written by Altantic’s marketing team but sponsored by Prudential.

While not having any clear call-to-actions, it advocates a long-term perspective and presumably resonates with forward-looking readers. This then also builds a corresponding brand image for Prudential and matches their primary product - insurance which has always been sold as for long-term protection.

3. Video Advertorials

The video version of advertorials, this is most frequently done by influencers or content channels integrating the advertisement into their content.

It is important to note the level of “nativeness” can vary widely between video content publishers from a simple pre-content blurb, integrating a clip from the brand to product placement or more seamless advertising.

4. In-feed Ads / Sponsored Facebook Posts / Promoted Tweets

In-feed ads are simply adverts hidden in platforms’ content feeds, like sponsored posts on Facebook or promoted tweets on Twitter.

There are numerous examples of these, and they can range from simple text to images to videos depending on the platform.

This is possibly the most commonly viewed type of native ads given the immense amount of time spent on social media and media platforms.

5. Google Search Ads

Similar to in-feed ads, Google Adwords are slightly different in that they provide sponsored links relevant to the search but pushed to the top before any regular search results are shown.

Some media sites may also do similar promoted content which is pushed to the top before regular content is shown.

While this is great for ensuring top-of-mind around particular topics or keywords, this form of native ads is also more subject to ad fatigue as it is clearly delineated from regular content and pushed to the front.

Closing Thoughts

Whatever your needs, native advertising is definitely here to stay and a powerful tool for any brands’ marketing. However, it is critical to remember that as with any marketing, if it fails to benefit the consumers - you may see more backlash than positive results!

"John Doe - Cardinal Digital's Adwords Services helped me get 11 new customers per week! Just a couple days of advertising, and I was booked through the weekend."
John Doe
Oasis Air Conditioning
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