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What Is Native Advertising and How Does It Work?

What Is Native Advertising and How Does It Work?

Native advertising has emerged as a powerful and strategic form of digital marketing in recent years. Unlike disruptive banner ads or promotional pop-ups, native ads aim to blend seamlessly into the user experience by matching the look, feel and function of the platform they appear on.

The critical goal of native advertising is to engage audiences without interrupting their browsing flow. This could involve sponsored articles that read like editorial content on a news site. These videos match the style of other user-generated clips on YouTube or social media posts by brands that fit organically into users' feeds.

By providing valuable and relevant content to the audience, native ads build trust and rapport between users and brands. The advertisements are non-intrusive and tailored for the platform, making them more likely to be welcomed and considered by readers or viewers.

While advertorials and sponsored content have existed for centuries, from newspaper supplements to TV infomercials, native advertising has evolved to leverage the unique benefits of digital media. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, brands can reach highly targeted audiences with native ads optimised for mobile devices and news feeds. Publishers can monetise their platforms without compromising user experience.

As native advertising continues to gain traction, the fundamental principles remain to provide thoughtful and engaging content tailored for each unique platform and audience. When executed strategically, native ads allow brands to connect with consumers in less disruptive ways that feel natural and welcomed. This ultimately drives more robust engagement and return on investment.

Definition of Native Advertising

Native Advertising Definition Example

Native advertising seeks to blend into its surroundings, appearing to belong naturally. It is designed to match the format and style of the platform it is displayed on: websites, social media feeds, or mobile apps.

Rather than appearing as a blatant advertisement, native ads are crafted to fit in. This helps capture users' attention without being intrusive. Plus, native ads offer value and relevance to their audience. Rather than distracting from the main content, native ads contribute something exciting or valuable, building trust between brands and consumers.

Interestingly, native advertising has become increasingly popular in recent years. eMarketer's report projects UK native ad spend to reach £27 billion by 2025. This demonstrates the recognition of its effectiveness and potential for brands looking to connect with their target audiences.

Benefits of Native Advertising

Native advertising provides many advantages for businesses and brands aiming to reach their target audience subtly yet effectively. Mixing sponsored content with the editorial or social media context offers multiple benefits for advertisers and consumers.

Advantages include:

  1. Increased visibility for brands. With content crafted to blend in with the platform, native ads have higher chances of meeting attention and engaging users than traditional banner or display ads.
  2. It is establishing trust and credibility. Providing exciting and helpful info and aligning with the target audience's interests helps brands become known as industry leaders.
  3. They are generating higher click-through rates (CTRs). Their discreet nature and relevance draw users in, increasing their likelihood of clicking on the ad.
  4. They have improved targeting capabilities. Advertisers can use data-driven insights to more effectively identify and reach specific demographics or niche markets.
  5. Greater engagement levels. Quality content creates compelling storytelling experiences, capturing users' attention for longer.
  6. They are influencing consumer behaviour subtly. When designed properly, these ads blend into users' browsing experience while delivering a call-to-action message.

In the last few years, native advertising has gained immense popularity. As marketers noticed the restrictions of traditional advertising, they sought new ways to connect with consumers. Native advertising emerged as a solution, allowing brands to leverage their existing audience and credibility by blending into trusted platforms.

Using this fresh approach, brands can give users valuable content without interfering with their browsing experience while still achieving their marketing goals. Native advertising has undeniably changed the landscape, creating an effective and adaptable medium for businesses to link with their target audience.

Types of Native Advertising Formats

Types Of Native Advertising

Native advertising encompasses various sponsored content formats that strategically blend promotional messages into diverse digital platforms. By understanding the most common types of native ads, marketers can select the approaches that best suit their campaign goals and target audience.

In-Feed Native Ads

One of the most popular forms is in-feed native advertising, where sponsored posts or articles mix seamlessly into the content stream on websites and apps. On social media, these ads mirror the look and functionality of organic bases in users' feeds. On news sites, they match the editorial style of surrounding articles. While labelled as “Sponsored” or “Promoted”, the content provides readers value.

Paid Search Listings

Paid search ads allow brands to appear among the top results when users search for relevant keywords on platforms like Google and Bing. They are marked as “Ads” but resemble and blend with organic search results. Paid search allows brands to appear prominently when users actively look for their products or services.

Recommendation Widgets

Many platforms like YouTube and Amazon offer automated recommendation widgets that suggest relevant content to users as they browse. Brands can pay to promote their products, videos or articles in these widgets, which tap into users' interests. The recommendations feel like natural extensions of the user experience.

Promoted Listings

On e-commerce sites, brands can pay to enhance the visibility and placement of their products and services. These promoted listings help drive discovery and conversions by giving brands prime real estate through top posts or banners. The ads fit seamlessly into the browsing experience.

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Looking ahead, native advertising will continue to evolve across emerging platforms and formats like in-app ads, influencer sponsorships on social media and more. The fundamental principles of value, relevance and organic integration into the user experience remain consistent across effective native ads.

How Native Advertising Works

Native advertising is a creative marketing form which blends sponsored content with the user's experience. It looks like part of the platform instead of an ad.

To know how it works, let's explore its components. Firstly, native ads adopt the same style as the surrounding content. This stops it from being disruptive.

Plus, native ads target specific audiences. This is done through data-driven methods such as interests and browsing behaviour.

Also, it can show up in various formats. In-feed units in social media news feeds, recommendation widgets under articles, promoted search results or sponsored stories on websites and apps.

Native ads are more likely to capture attention and gain engagement than traditional display ads. Brands can build trust with their target audience while at the same time delivering helpful content.

For successful native advertising, prioritise quality over quantity. Create content which matches the platform's tone and values to establish credibility and foster real connections.

In conclusion, native advertisements seamlessly fit in, providing a non-disruptive user experience. At the same time, it sends targeted messages to the correct people at the right time. By following these best practices and creating high-quality content, businesses can reach their target audience more organically.

Best Practices for Implementing Native Advertising

Regarding native advertising, there are some best practices for optimal results. These involve content that blends with the user experience on different platforms. Here's what you should do:

  1. Ad Disclosure: Clearly state that it's sponsored or an ad. Transparency and trust are essential.
  2. Relevance: Make sure the native ads match the interests of your audience. This increases engagement.
  3. Seamless Integration: Create content that integrates with the platform it's displayed on. Adapt format, design, and tone.
  4. Engaging Headlines: Craft attention-grabbing headlines. Compelling ones impact click-through rates.
  5. Visual Appeal: Use high-quality images or videos. Visuals can capture users' attention better than text.
  6. Mobile-Optimization: Optimise your ads for mobile platforms. Make sure they're viewable and navigable on small screens.
  7. A/B Testing: Test different variations of your ads to identify what resonates with your audience. A/B testing helps refine your approach and improve performance.

By following these best practices, you can create successful native advertising campaigns. According to eMarketer, 61% of respondents found native ads more relevant than traditional display ads.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Adidas Originals Influencer Marketing

Case studies and success stories show how native advertising can be successful. These examples prove how much brands can gain from this form of advertising. Here is a table with some notable cases and stories:

AdidasIncrease visibilityCollaborated with fitness influencers to promote new athletic shoesExperienced more online engagement and sales
AirbnbGenerate leads and bookingsCreated travel guides with local hosts' recommendationsHad more bookings in featured destinations
Coca-ColaEnhance brand perceptionPartnered with renowned artists for branded contentMillennials had higher positive sentiment towards the brand

These stories show how native advertising can help companies reach goals. For example, by working with influencers, creating content, or partnering with artists, companies can get increased visibility, lead generation, and better brand perception.

These are only a few examples of the success of native advertising. There are plenty of other success stories from different industries.


Native advertising blends with content on websites and platforms, making it less like an advert. It matches the form and function of the platform it appears on. It includes sponsored articles, videos, or social media posts. This helps advertisers choose the correct format for their campaign.

Native ads offer value to users by providing relevant and informative content alongside brand messaging. This helps to generate higher engagement rates and increases brand awareness.

According to eMarketer, native advertising will take up two-thirds of digital display ad spending by 2022. It's a popular strategy amongst marketers.

Native advertising is a powerful tool combining creativity and consumer-centric approaches. It seamlessly integrates promotional messages into online experiences. Brands can use this to connect with their audience and reach marketing goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is paid advertising that blends seamlessly with a platform or website's content and overall user experience. It aims to provide value to the audience while promoting a particular product, service, or brand.

How does native advertising work?

Native advertising creates ads that match the look, feel, and context of the platform they appear on. This involves using similar fonts, colours, and layouts to the surrounding content. By blending in, native ads capture users' attention without disrupting their browsing experience.

What are the benefits of native advertising?

Native advertising offers several benefits. It enhances user engagement as the ads are non-intrusive and relevant to consumed content. It also increases brand awareness, as native ads are more likely to be viewed and shared. Additionally, native advertising often leads to higher click-through rates and conversions when compared to traditional display ads.

Where can native ads be found?

Native ads can be found on various online platforms, such as social media feeds, news websites, online magazines, and mobile apps. They can be seamlessly integrated into articles, videos, or social media posts to provide users with a tailored and cohesive experience.

How can businesses create effective native ads?

To create effective native ads, businesses should understand their target audience, choose appropriate platforms, and align their content with the context of the platform. It's important to provide valuable and relevant information, maintaining transparency about the sponsored nature of the content. A compelling headline and eye-catching visuals also contribute to the ad's success.

Is native advertising regulated?

Native advertising is regulated to ensure transparency and prevent deceptive practices. Advertising guidelines require disclosure when content is sponsored, ensuring users know they view paid content. This helps maintain trust and allows users to differentiate between editorial and sponsored content.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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