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What Is Native Advertising?

December 2, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Native advertising is a type of paid media that looks, feels and functions like the form of media in which it has been placed. For instance, a sponsored article that appears on a website, formatted similarly to the other articles, is considered “native advertising.” Native advertising works because it feels like a natural extension of the user experience, particularly on mobile and social media platforms, and advertisers are increasingly allocating more of their media budgets to native ad placements.

How Is Native Advertising Impacting Digital Display Ad Growth In 2020?

Digital advertising continues to grow. eMarketer notes “display ad spending will still post 5.5% in annual growth, thanks to increased investments in video ads, mobile, connected TV (CTV) and programmatic transactions.” Among the growth areas is native advertising, including both video and non-video ads, increasing by more than $2 billion this year. In 2019, eMarketer reported that the significant jump in native advertising spend could be attributed in part to increased native mobile ad placements, which at the time of the report, already made up 85% of the native display ad market. Social media, and Facebook in particular, accounts for the majority of native ad spending. Native digital display advertising spending in the U.S. in 2020 was more than $52 billion.

How Does Native Advertising Benefit Digital Advertisers?

As native advertising opportunities expand, the benefits of native advertising grows too. Consumers are increasingly selective about what advertising they engage with and often prefer advertising, like native, that feels as if it’s an authentic part of the user experience. 

Native Video Advertising May Be More Effective At Generating Positive Brand Engagement Than Pre-Roll Ads

In a recent guide to native advertising by Taboola, a leading native advertising platform, the platform found that native video advertising led to increased brand awareness, ad recall and impressions for advertisers. Taboola also notes that, for some consumers, native video advertising is preferable to pre-roll ads because it is less disruptive. 

Native Display Advertising Attracts More Attention And Clicks Than Traditional Display Ads

Similar to native video ads, native display ads generate more attention than traditional display ads and are considered by consumers to be more “engaging and trustworthy,” according to Taboola. Adding, “Native display ads have a click-through rate (CTR) that’s 8.8 times higher than regular display ads.” 

Native Advertising On Social Media News Feeds Lets Users Decide When To Interact

Native ads that appear as part of users’ social media news feeds are quite effective at engaging consumers, particularly for top- and-middle funnel content. When properly executed on social media, through sponsored posts, in-story ads and video, native advertising can help brands avoid growing issues with ad blockers, banner blindness and, generally speaking, lack of trust from younger consumers of traditional advertising. Native content on social media also feels organic to the user experience, making it more likely to be viewed and shared.

Native Advertising In The Form Of Branded, Sponsored Content Is Trusted By Younger Consumers 

In a 2017 study, Time Inc. found that younger consumers preferred branded content that shows a brand’s expertise and explores creative ideas. According to Adweek, “The study also found that 93% of people prefer brands to share interesting things via custom content that they may not have otherwise seen, and 92% feel that brands have expertise on topics and add value to the content they’re already consuming as readers.”

Native Advertising Works Well In Conjunction With Multichannel Digital Advertising Campaigns

Although the placement-specific editorial look and feel of many native ads may not seem like a natural fit for programmatic advertising strategies, increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning is making programmatic native campaigns possible. Placing native ads programmatically offers all the usual benefits of programmatic advertising – targeting, audience insights, future optimizations and cost effectiveness – with the native appearance that is effective at driving engagement and conversions. According to MediaRadar, in the first half of 2019, 15% of native ads were placed programmatically, up 50% year over year.

Native advertising offers advertisers a variety of formats to reach consumers, increase engagements and deliver conversions. Digital advertisers that want to expand their mobile and social media reach should fully embrace native advertising strategies as part of larger multichannel campaigns.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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