What is Native Advertising (And How is it Shaping Paid Media)?


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Monday, June 15, 2020

If you're looking for ways to extend your brand reach and engagement in an increasingly crowded, demanding marketing environment, native advertising could be the answer.

Article 5 Minutes
What is Native Advertising (And How is it Shaping Paid Media)?

Modern marketers face many challenges, one of the biggest being getting your messages across to your audience and earning brand engagement in a world where people are bombarded by more content than ever before.

It's becoming increasingly difficult for traditional advertising methods - particularly those that are viewed as intrusive or just annoying - to capture people's attention. Brands are having to come to terms with the fact that many people simply don't like advertising, as emphasized by the recent growth in the use of online ad blockers.

This has given rise to new marketing methods and strategies that seek to draw audiences in with content that’s relevant and contextual to their browsing experience, rather than interruptive.

One of the best examples of this is native advertising.

What is native advertising?

"Paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel, function and quality of the content of the media on which it appears." - Jesper Laursen, Chief Executive of the Native Advertising Institute.


The objective of this form of advertising is to blend in with its surroundings, which can help you sidestep the pitfall of potential customers switching off and dismissing your content because their automatic reaction is to ignore ads.

Essentially, it's about creating ads that don't look like adverts, and giving people content they actually want to see.

"Tuning out the noise has become instinctual - even my two-year-old son has learned to 'Skip Ad' in YouTube to get to his Daniel Tiger video faster. It doesn't take a futurist to realize that we have to improve the way we advertise to consumers if our industry hopes to survive." - Nishat Mehta, President of the IRI Media Center of Excellence and Forbes Council member.


Native advertising examples

Native advertising comes in many forms, all united by the ambition to earn clicks and leads by presenting content that captures people's interest in an organic, non-intrusive way.

Sponsored content on a publisher’s platform

One common approach is for an advertiser to pay to be featured on a publisher’s platform. This can provide many benefits, including giving the brand access to the publisher's existing audience.

If the content is carefully planned and designed to blend in well with the rest of the publisher's output, it can help achieve valuable results, including an influx of new contacts and leads.

Sponsored content on The New York TimesSource

The above example is a seven-question quiz produced by banking group BNP Paribas to raise awareness of a long-form research piece by the company, which was presented on the New York Times’ website. The aim of the content was to reflect the quiz taker's progress along their entrepreneurial journey and then invite them to download the Global Entrepreneur Report.

Sponsored social media posting

Below is another example of native advertising: sponsored social media posting.

Natgeotravel sponsored social media posting exampleSource

This post was shared on the National Geographic Instagram feed as part of the Indian Government's Incredible India campaign, which aimed to promote travel to the country. It works well in the context of other National Geographic content on Instagram, thanks to the impressive image that dominates the post.

Paid search ads

Another common use of native advertising is paid search ads, which allow brands to present their content at the top of search engine rankings, in a layout that mimics organic results.

Native advertising example - paid search ads - GoogleSource

This allows brands to get in front of potential customers for specific search terms and is often used to jump ahead of organic SEO results when there’s a lot of competition.

How native advertising is shaping paid media

It's clear that native advertising is a trend marketers can't afford to ignore, especially if you're looking into opportunities to use paid media to boost your brand exposure and generate more leads.

Google search data for the term 'native ads' suggests that interest in this topic began to escalate in 2013 and rose steadily over the following three years.

According to Statista, worldwide native advertising spend is on course to reach $52.7bn by the end of 2020, with AdYouLike also estimating that the sector will climb 372% between now and 2025.

Research from Taboola also highlights the valuable benefits from investing in this approach to advertising, such as:

  • Click-through rates nearly nine times higher than typical display ads
  • A 9% increase in brand affinity and 18% higher purchase intent than display ads
  • 53% more views than traditional ads
  • Stronger engagement, with 71% of consumers saying they personally identify with a brand after viewing native ads, compared to 50% for display ads

There are undeniable advantages to be gained from native advertising, but there are also challenges to overcome and questions to answer. Before going down this route, consider how much time and investment will be required to get the best results.

For example, will you need to build a dedicated in-house native advertising team with the expertise and experience you need to thrive in this space? And can you create content that captures your audience's interest and draws them in?

Like with all forms of marketing, the success of native advertising also depends on your ability to measure results. Equipped with the right metrics and tools for data collection and analysis, you can feel much more confident in your efforts to gauge the outcome of your campaigns.

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