What Are “Native Ads”?

Taboola's homepage.
Courtesy of Taboola.com.


What Are Native Ads?

Native ads are designed to match the appearance of content surrounding them with the purpose of making them less disruptive for user experience. Native advertisement is supported by many ad networks, including Taboola, Outbrain, Revcontent, MGID, as well as Yahoo! Gemini.

Google defines native ads as follows:

Ads that are formatted to match the look and feel of the sites they appear on are called native ads.

Results of an internal Google study show that users find native ad units less distracting than banners.

Outbrain writes that:

Unlike display ads or banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads. They look like part of the editorial flow of the page.

According to Taboola, native ads can be placed on search engine results pages, social networks, and websites that run ads with an ad network. Regardless of their location, native ad units are usually placed in widgets.

The primary strength of native ad units is that they may take a variety of forms to match the page they are on. Thanks to this, their visual engagement level is typically the same as with the original editorial content, according to Outbrain.

Examples of native advertisement.
Courtesy of Outbrain.com.


As a downside, Outbrain writes that the adaptability of native ad units makes them difficult to distinguish from non-paid content intended for consumption. This may compromise the editorial neutrality of the publisher.

For example, imagine you clicked on an article about “The Top Five Hiking Destinations In South America”, which took you to a post on the Acme Hiking Equipment blog. It’s not the same as just reading an article on National Geographic, is it? After all, the Acme Hiking Equipment company is paying the website publisher for your click.

Outbrain adds that “consumer watchdogs, such as the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), are at pains to regulate the use of native ads to ensure that consumers are not misled.”

Native ads can be typically identified by a number of distinguishing features, such as words “Sponsored” or “Recommended for You”.

Distinguishing features of native ads.
Courtesy of Outbrain.com.


Google recommends that native ads be clearly marked as advertising. Tricking users into clicking on ads should be avoided as this is “bad for the whole ecosystem, including users, advertisers, and publishers.”

Additionally, native advertisement should not interfere with what the users are doing on the website.


The Effectiveness Of Native Ads

Outbrain claims that consumers look at native ad units 53% more often than display advertisement. Additionally, native advertisement increases purchase intent by 18%.

Outbrain adds that native advertisement can fight ad fatigue, when users stop paying attention to advertisement after consuming many of them.

If you are interested in mastering native advertising, you should check out the STM Forum – a community dedicated to ways to make affiliate marketing more effective.





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