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In Advertising

By Phil Murphy

Native Online Advertising – The Online Ad Industry is going native

On 02, Feb 2014 | No Comments | In Advertising, Blog, Mobile | By Phil Murphy

Native advertising is a hot topic, born out of our new love for mobile, the advertising challenges mobile brings and the decline in the performance of traditional display ad units.

Every major publisher from the New York Times (Dell example) , The, YouTube to Vanity Fair seems to be getting in on it. But what is native advertising, what can it do for your brand, and is it really as challenging to implement as people are saying?

What Is It?

Native advertising may be taking the international marketing world by storm, but surprisingly few people seem to know what it is. In fact, I’ve come across more than a few instances where the experts themselves can’t even seem to agree what ‘native’ really means. The most basic definition is any ad designed to fit into the visual and content scheme of a website or site, making it harder for readers and viewers to see that it is an advertisement. While some argue that this is merely a form of content publishing, native advertising can be considered as a sort of bridge between content and banner ads.


While Native Advertising itself is a relatively new term, it’s surprisingly prevalent across a number of platforms. For example, promoted posts on Facebook are considered to be Native ads. They use the median of published content, but push unsolicited adverts on the viewer.

  • Facebook sponsored posts integrate directly into the users feed, but are an unsolicited ad.
  • New York Times – Posts with ‘Sponsored by Dell’ appeared on January 7th, seamlessly blending ads with content.
  • YouTube sponsored videos create ‘ads’ that blend in with existing content, suggesting sponsored videos based on user search.
  • Amazon ‘sponsored posts create visual ads for products that appear similar to Amazon’s own product listings.


Native ads decrease user trust. For example, the New York Times ran native ads with sponsored posts from Dell. Experts now suggest that any time a post about Dell appears in the Times, readers will assume that it’s been paid for. Similarly, linking visually deceptive ads to sales sites for click-through revenue will result in reduced user trust. So, you have to utilize native advertising wisely. So, is it a bad idea to use native ads? Not necessarily.


Native advertisement has been proven to offer a higher click through rate than nearly any other type of add, making it highly advantageous for users. According to IGP Media Lab some 30% of viewers suggested that they would be willing to share native ads, compared to just 19% of traditional banner ad viewers. Plus, native ads have the same view time as traditional content publishing, which is significantly higher than that of a banner ad.

Integrating Native Ads  

  1. Work With Transparent Publishers: ads should state that they are ads – you don’t want to trick viewers, even if they aren’t on your site. Include a disclaimer on any native ad.
  2. Get Creative – Just because content publishing ads are popular doesn’t mean that’s your only choice. Consider video, Infographics, or images as part of your native advertising scheme.
  3. Create quality content: Banner ads are designed to make a one-time impression, native ads can go viral. Because native ads are user based, create your ads with user and site in mind to create an experience that is ‘native’ rather than intrusive’.  The best native ads are user-interest based.
  4. Scale appropriately: Keep your native ads to a level where they aren’t intrusive on site content, the goal is to attract interest without the user realizing that they are viewing an ad.
  5. Use the same formatting as the website: Posting video ads on a site without videos is too obviously an ad. Integrate native ads in formats that viewers expect content in.
  6. Measure user response: Use your analytics program to measure the click through, ROI, and view times for each of your native ads, and compare the results with those of traditional ads.

While native advertisement is popular, it’s not the only form of digital marketing out there, and it may not be the correct advertising median for you. Research your options, and create a comprehensive digital marking plan before you get stuck on one option.

My concerns around Native advertising:

Know Native Advertising Place: If a native ad is too salesly it will just be ignored and may in some cases do more damage than good…

Publisher Objectives: Native advertising should feel and read like it is native and not jar with the other content on the page from an editorial standards perspective. Where I see the issue with Native advertising is that it relies on the publisher being selective about the quality of the ad, clearly identifying it as paid content and taking on every native ad there sales team can generate.

Image by Mr. Fix It / CC

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