Native Ads: Highlights for digital publishers

If you’re an avid publisher,  chances are you’re already familiar with native advertising and its intricacies. That said, today native is as relevant as ever, so it’s definitely worth reconsidering in case you haven’t explored the ad format yet. Let’s have a quick reminder of the basics and summarize the benefits of adopting native ads into your monetization strategy.

Native Advertising in the digital publishing world. Publisher Insights

What are Native Ads – The Definition

The official Wikipedia definition of the term:

“Native advertising is a type of advertising that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. In many cases, it functions like an advertorial and manifests as a video, article or editorial. The word “native” refers to this coherence of the content with the other media that appear on the platform.”

Types of native advertising

In 2014, IAB Lab defined 6 main types of native advertising. You are probably familiar with them, yet just in case, you can have a look at the official IAB lab playbook, and we will list them below:

  • In-Feed Units
  • Paid Search Units
  • Recommendation Widgets
  • Promoted Listings
  • In-Ad (IAB Standard) with Native Element Units  
  • Custom

Our team generally advises against using solely one of those types, as this way we’ll not be able to reach the maximum performance potential of the ad placement. If you are curious to find out more, don’t hesitate to give us a shout. We’d happily discuss different options with you and even provide you with a free website evaluation.


As mentioned previously, native ads blend in with the content of your website and behave just like any other element on your webpage. While there are a few types of native ad formats, here, we will highlight the main benefits of the also known as Sponsored content (or sponsored articles). It is mainly often accepted as the most non-intrusive high-quality ad format, not to mention that these can bring incremental revenue with no impact on user experience. Sponsored content can appear in various positions and page types, but whatever the implementation, the objective is always to complement existing content, rather than to distract from it. Even more so, many sponsored articles are targeted specifically to visitors and they are topic-related, ensuring that the users would willingly engage with the ad.

One of the core native ad types and probably the most widespread are In-Feed Ads. They can be found on home pages, section fronts, product pages and social platforms. These ads fit in to harmonize with the website’s layout and design of the surrounding content, yet it provides visual notes and hints to inform the users that are paid ads.

There are three main types of in-feed ads, as defined by the IAB:

  • Content feed – includes articles, images or video branded/native content; e.g., publisher content sites and news aggregators such as CNN and Yahoo;
  • Product feed – includes the product, services or app-install branded/native content; e.g., retail sites and app listings such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay;
  • Social feed – includes social content, articles, videos, stories, images and music branded/native content; e.g., social networking and messaging apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Note: On social feeds, there are no In-Content Ads;

When users engage with an In-Feed ad, they will either stay on the same website (the landing page is internal) or land on a different web property. The content in the native ad itself can be anything from text editorial to video, content recommendations and etc.

Why Go Native?

The biggest social channels around the globe monetize with native ads, including Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. The digital publishing industry is quick to follow and companies like Forbes, NYTimes keep on introducing new advertising integrations that mimic their site’s editorial content. Native formats aim to engage seamlessly with website audiences on both mobile and desktop. This allows publishers to maintain a positive user experience and keep up their brand standards. The latest formats are more than ever aimed at the users and their digital experience. The sponsored content field in particular has a strong focus on sustaining its audience and increasing ad revenue. 

That is why their performance and overall results are beneficial for both advertisers and publishers. Our team observes that website visitors pay approx. 25% more attention to native ads than to standard banners. On the other hand, more than 90% of media buyers find native ads to be highly effective when it comes to mobile branding and that purchase intent is around 20% higher in comparison to a banner advertisement. A recent EMarketer forecast states huge growth in mobile native ads. According to them, “by 2020, 89% of U.S. native ads will be mobile, up from 85.2% last year. In addition, 88% of native will be purchased programmatically in 2020, up from 87% last year.” 

The Pros
  • Ad placement – With native advertising, your ads appear in places that readers are already checking out. A lot of the users have developed a habit to avoid certain types of content and/or locations on the page in order to escape attacks from ads. Native advertising detours that user pattern and even catches visitors’ attention;
  • Effectiveness  Native advertisements attract more attention and don’t affect the time spent on the page nearly as much, which allows for better performance than standard banner ads;
  • Branding –   When created with the user in mind and done by the rules of high-quality native creatives, they increase the overall brand reputation more reliably than other types of ads.
  • High demand – More and more marketing specialists are choosing native advertising. The prediction is that by the end of 2020 approximately 63% of mobile display ad spending will be made up of native ads.
The Cons
  • Visitors can feel taken advantage of – Because of the nature of native, there’s always a risk that a user can feel like they’ve been tricked into engaging with these ads. However, this tends to only happen with websites that have a poor content-to-ads synnergy or upon engagement with low-quality creatives. In most cases, if the experience is seamless, it will not cause any frustration.
  • Potential negative brand awareness – The biggest benefit of native also presents the greatest challenge. By blending sponsored content with you web property’s design you’re effectively assosiating your website with whatever get’s displayed in the creative. There only as much control you have when it comes to RTB, so if the experience with the native advertising content is a bad one, the negative feelings translate to the brand as well. Again, it all comes down to vigilant quality assurance.

If you’re yet to jump on the bandwagon, go ahead and try it yourself! Native has a lot to offer and everything suggests it’s here to stay for the long run. Not sure where to start? Talk to one of our local representatives who can help you get you up and running in no time.