Everything you need to know about Native Ads

Written by Raquel Ríos Dafonte - Marketing Specialist at Techsoulogy
Created May 30, 2023 - Updated Aug 01, 2023 | 6 min read
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Advertising that doesn’t look like advertising. That’s the essence of native ads. A format that integrates so naturally with the look and feel of the medium or platform in which it appears that it just looks like another entry on the feed, sharing the same design and functionalities. It’s an ad that merges with the surrounding content, as opposed to standing out from it, so as not to disrupt the consumer experience.

Hence the unique opportunity presented by this type of advertising for shortening the distance between brand and audience by applying creativity, and the associated responsibility to use it appropriately, avoiding bad practices such as clickbait, deception, or even advertising fraud.

What are Native Ads?

Native advertising is not new or exclusive to the digital medium. It has been employed since the early twentieth century in printed media, and the guiding principles remain the same whether applied to the web, apps, or social networks: to integrate organically into the design and functionalities of the host medium. Of course, transparency is vital, and advertising must use appropriate labels to indicate that it is sponsored or promoted content.

In other words: native ads are a non-intrusive advertising format that integrates discreetly into a publisher‘s content universe, emulating its design and even forming part of the content marketing strategy. This type of advertising provides added value beyond its commercial interest so they do not look, sound or feel like advertisements.

Today, native advertising is one of the most successful advertising solutions around, offering the potential to connect with a mass audience in a non-intrusive way thanks to its versatility, creativity, and ease of implementation across different channels and platforms.

Types of native ads

The most common native ad formats are:

  1. Articles: pieces of long-form paid content promoting a product or service while providing the added value of an informative nature, sometimes from a journalistic angle that can be as engaging as the medium’s usual content.
  2. Images: paid promotional visual content about a product or service that adopts a design that is very similar to that of the images on the medium or platform where it appears.
  3. Videos: informative style explanatory formats that emulate the look, feel, and functionalities of the medium they appear on, but that feature promotional content.
  4. In-feed: ads that are organically integrated into social network feeds such as Facebook or Instagram, with the same look, feel, and functionalities although labeled as sponsored content in order to differentiate it. Although they are correctly labeled as ads, the way their design seamlessly integrates into the consumer context and their immediacy, so loved by users of these platforms, makes them seem like more organic content. 

In addition to these generic formats, when it comes to the digital medium some platforms have very successfully implemented their own examples of native advertising. The most iconic are:

  • Sponsored search results: these are the first posts to appear on search results pages and have the same visual appearance as organic results, but are labeled “sponsored.”

  • Story filters, stickers, and effects on social networks: social media features for customizing users’ photos can also be a marketing tool for brands to create their own versions and incentivize users to use them organically. In addition to getting the user to create the content, these formats achieve a more valuable engagement based on entertaining content which the user is already interested in.

Social Networks Filters and Stickers Native Ads

  • Promoted Hashtags: this basic functionality for suggesting relevant content to users on some microblogging networks has become a means of advertising in itself. A native content that brands can sponsor to “sneak” into the trends of the day and multiply their visibility and notoriety linked to current issues in matters of public opinion.

Promoted Hashtags Native Ads

  • Short-video Trends: it is often said that brands shouldn’t show classic ads on some short-video platforms, they should do viral trends. That is, use exactly the same formats, trends, viral hooks, filters, and sounds as any other user of the social network, as if they were making organic content. Essentially in this way, they are creating native advertising by following the social network’s trends, although in this case such content is sponsored.

Short Video Social Networks Trends and Native Ads

  • Streaming audio playlists: some streaming music and podcast platforms offer the opportunity to create custom playlists based on a brand’s products or services and use user data to recommend these lists. For example, Netflix took advantage of this feature to promote the “Stranger Things” series by ascribing a list to each user according to their favorite character.  

Music Streaming Platforms Native Ads

Depending on the distribution platform you use for your native advertising, it may be possible to sign direct agreements with the end publisher, or you will need to use specialized networks such as Tappx to reach multiple sites.

Some reasons and best practices to getting started with Native Advertising

In addition to the widespread consensus in the advertising industry about significantly increasing CTR, other reasons to use native ads include: 

  • They are perfectly integrated into the content of the site, app, or social network and therefore get greater engagement than display ads 
  • Their format is less intrusive and the content is higher quality. Therefore, they improve the user experience and retention in the medium 
  • Interaction with native ads is equal to or slightly higher than interaction with editorial content on a website or app
  • Thanks to their format and content, they beat the purchase intention ratios of traditional banners, resulting in higher rates of return on advertising spend (ROAS)
  • When they manage to provide valuable, quality content, they reinforce brand affinity, trust, and loyalty. 


How creative ads can boost your app revenues

As for good practices and tips for creating native advertising, this is the most important thing to keep in mind: 

  1. Affinity and context: you need to find the medium that represents the best fit for your brand’s content and target audience. It is particularly advantageous when the publisher also allows segmentation by specific demographic groups and contexts in order to optimize relevance and, consequently, interaction rates and ROAS. For contextual segmentation, you can use powerful artificial intelligence tools like Contextualize-it, which allow you to extract information not only from the web but also from the audio and image of the videos consumed by the user in real time. 
  2. Consistency: you need to adapt the design, tone, wording, style of images, etc. to the medium hosting your advertising so that it matches the content around it without interrupting the consumer experience.
  3. Authenticity: native advertising must be transparent, not pretending to be something it isn’t. In fact, when properly labeled as advertising content it inspires more trust and credibility, is more relevant to the audience, and, consequently, achieves a higher percentage of clicks and purchases. The audience doesn’t like to be sold to, but they do like to buy. Therefore, they will be interested in a native ad that provides them with useful information about the product or service, that tells a story they connect with rather than directly selling them something.
  4. Relevance: if you make informative content which is truly beneficial to the user, and give them advice about something they care about, the user will appreciate it, save it, and even share it. To the point that it will stay on their mind and they will think of your brand when they need a related product.
  5. Planning: so that you can tick off the previous points, you need to integrate your native advertising into the content marketing plan of the medium you are planning to collaborate with. Therefore, you must draw up a consistent strategy and objectives.
  6. Creativity: the key is to capture the user’s attention, to bring something new and different by taking advantage of the particularities of each medium and its latest trends. Playing with easy-to-read, visual, interactive, and entertaining formats that capture the user’s attention at first glance is key. 
  7. Measurement and optimization: To achieve the best results you must define KPIs such as click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost of acquisition of registration or sale (CPA), and return on investment (ROI), measure their evolution and optimize your native ads based on the metrics. 

Final thoughts

Although native advertising can be branded misleading by arguing that it tries to persuade the audience to consume a commercial message believing that it is editorial content, this danger is neutralized when it is clearly labeled and used transparently to add value beyond its promotional objective.

The more transparent a native ad is, the more receptive the audience will be.

In fact, the metrics show that the more transparent and explicit the sponsorship tag is in a native ad, the more receptive the audience is to consume it. It is, therefore, about taking advantage of the user’s context to connect, be relevant, and generate a positive experience. 

The audience is tired of the same old thing. Now they want to consume content, see ads that do not look like ads, formats that provide added value, that are naturally integrated into the websites and apps they use, without interrupting. And this is where native advertising offers a golden opportunity to get around the risk of being ignored or even blocked and to give the audience what they want. 

It is possible to promote your business without irritating users but rather adding value to their experience, and at Techsoulogy we can help you achieve it. In our efforts to go further and offer new monetization services to our publishers, we are constantly working with innovative formats to deliver incremental results to our clients. Take a look at our video generation and monetization platform PlayOnContent.

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