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In modern digital marketing, there are many different types of advertisements you can utilize. Depending on your target audience and budget, different ads might perform better than others. Among all the major ad types, native ads are some of the most effective and simultaneously controversial.

Today, let’s take a closer look at what native advertising is, how native ads work, and whether your brand should use native advertisements in its marketing campaigns.

Native Advertising Explained

Native advertising is any paid advertising that is designed or constructed to look nearly identical to native content on a publisher site that isn’t an ad, whether that includes articles, posts, or editorial content. That’s a bit of a general definition, though, so let’s take a closer look.

Say that you have a brand website and you provide informative, educational blog posts to your target audience members. The blog posts are intended to raise brand awareness and act as topic tutorials for technical questions that your consumers might have.

A high-quality native advertisement might look, feel, and even be just like one of those blog posts but include at least one advertisement in its content. Native advertisements fit in seamlessly and “natively” on a webpage, at least in comparison with the rest of the content on that page.

They’re contrasted with other types of digital ads, like banner ads or display ads. Banner ads, for example, look very clearly like advertisements; they show up in designated spots on the side of the screen and immediately display the products they are meant to showcase. Native advertisements don’t immediately jump out to the viewer.

So, What Are Native Ads?

Native ads can show up in a variety of places and formats. The most common native ads include:

  • Featured content on websites, especially landing pages. These include blog posts, product recommendations, etc.
  • Social media ads and in-feed ads, especially testimonials
  • Promoted listings that appear at the top of Google Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs

However, any advertisement format you can think of can count as a type of native ad. It just has to look similar to the other non-promotional content on the website or page. Ad formats, such as native video ads, carousel ads, and other native ad formats, don’t matter so long as they drive click-through rates and focus on user experience over other traditional call-to-action ads.

Different content marketing or digital advertising goals might prioritize different goals or metrics, like conversions, ad spend, and so on, for their native advertising campaigns. Real-time programmatic native advertising allows branded content to be adjusted on the fly; that’s why sponsored content often looks different to each site visitor. Mobile ads, in particular, use this form of advertising to provide content recommendations to different customers.

How Does Native Advertising Work?

Essentially, native advertising works by blending in with the rest of a brand’s content instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s a marketing strategy designed to advertise subtly yet effectively to a target audience without being obvious about it.

For example, a brand might have a native advertisement disguised as an informative blog post. The blog post may indeed have educational, entertaining, or informative content that provides value to the reader. But it also includes a recommendation or push toward a specific product or solution. In doing so, the blog serves a dual purpose: it builds trust in the brand and advertises for the brand simultaneously.

Native ads oftentimes work with both dedicated ad publishers and marketers. For example, a brand might have ample advertising space in its blog or on some of its pages. It sells that advertising space to brands that want to advertise to the same target audience. To do that, it hires someone to create native ads, such as the above-mentioned blog posts. The blog posts include content recommending a specific product or service, plus informative content that matches the original site’s agenda.

Since native ads can look like any type of advertisement or web content, there’s no single way to practice native advertising.

Native Ads and Deception Laws

While native ads can be highly effective, it’s important to remember that you and any other company cannot outright lie to consumers. Furthermore, and more importantly, native advertisements must be explicitly marked as such.

Say that you have a guest post from another company. The guest post is due to appear on your blog. While it will provide important value to your consumers, it also serves as an advertisement for the guest brand. Therefore, it’s a native ad and needs to have some marker of its nature.

You can put "advertisement" at the top of the post so viewers know what they are reading. Or you can include a disclaimer at the beginning or end of the article explaining that it is paid promotional content. In any case, native advertising is a bit tricky since you can't represent promotional content as non-promotional in any way.

Is Native Advertising Effective?

It can be. When leveraged properly, native advertising can be highly effective and persuasive to your target audience members.

Even those consumers who like your brand or feel a certain amount of brand loyalty may not respond well to plain advertisements put front and center. They might respond better to content that provides some other type of value, such as information or entertainment. Therefore, native advertisements might be ideal for drawing these types of consumers to your brand or convincing them to make a purchase.

Native advertising can be effective for many different types of marketing goals, including:

  • Building up brand awareness without needing to market a specific product or push a specific sale
  • Announcing and trying to sell a new product by highlighting its excellent features
  • Highlighting a brand partnership, especially if the native advertising content is written or created by the partner (like a guest post)
  • Building brand interaction among your social media followers

Is Native Advertising Controversial?

However, it’s important to remember that native advertising can be controversial and even bad for your brand if you don’t leverage it wisely.

Consumers don’t like to feel like they are being tricked. If you try to obscure or hide your promotional disclaimer, for instance, someone might spot it and feel like you are trying to deceive them, thus ruining the effectiveness of the native ad in question.

Furthermore, some marketers or consumers may find native advertising to be inherently deceptive. This isn’t true, but it is something to keep in mind depending on the demographics and opinions of your target audience members.

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Ultimately, native advertisements carry the potential to be highly effective, provided that you create and post them wisely. Remember, too, that your native ads must be clearly marked as such — posting content to your consumers without divulging that it’s an advertisement could land you in legal hot water!

You can also use native advertisements as OOH marketing materials, particularly in conjunction with platforms like AdQuick. At AdQuick, we make it easier than ever for you to manage and master your out-of-home marketing campaigns, so try our platform today.


Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses | Federal Trade Commission

About native ads - Display & Video 360 Help | Google

Guide to Native Advertising | Columbia Journalism Review

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