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MARKETING: Native Advertising
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Native Advertising
A Definitive Guide
By Andy Marsh

BT 201909 marketing 05Other than seamless collaboration, and an unlimited budget, there is nothing a marketer dreams of as much as being able to sell to people without them feeling sold to. However, this is often not the case, especially with traditional banner ads. Most people consider digital advertisements as interruptions of what they are interested in, and they have mastered the art of ignoring those ads.

BT 201909 marketing 11As a result, marketers have to find ways to expose target audiences to content in ways that interest them and raise awareness of the product they are promoting. That is what native ads aim to do. Though different experts have different meaning of what native advertising is, they agree that it has the following characteristics:


• It is a way of distributing content.


• It is present on a domain (social media, blogs, search engines) other than yours.


• It has a label stating ‘ad’, “sponsored”, or “promoted”.


• Content is valuable only when you purchase.


• Appears to provide value, but it aims to sell a product.


Benefits of Native Advertising


BT 201909 marketing 04Higher engagement rates


Native ads match the form, feel, and function of the content of the media on which they appear. Thanks to its non-intrusive nature, it has a higher acceptance rate leading to a higher click-through rate. It also happens to be the ad format of choice for millennials with 38% saying they would purchase a product featured in a native ad.


3 2They are not intrusive


Unlike banners ads, native ads give the audience space to consume the content without being pushy. They are easily consumed with no effort from the target, thanks to the context in which they are placed.


Native ads also have their shortcomings, but let us look at some common examples before we get into that.


Types of Native Advertising


BT 201909 marketing 07In-feed Units


If you have ever been scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn and came across a post marked, “sponsored”, “promoted”, or “ad”, then you are familiar with in-feed native ads. They match the company’s content and blend with the publisher’s experience. However, they are marked so people are aware that they are ads.


2 2Content Recommendation Widgets


Most publishers have “Recommended for you” or "you may also like..." widgets at the end of their articles. Also known as content recommendation engines, these widgets allow brands to drive traffic to their websites. However, these widgets can also be placed in a toaster format, i.e., the recommendations will slide from the side of the page. The final format is that of a floating sidebar and is the best for people who have landed on the wrong page.


BT 201909 marketing 08Promoted Listings


If you have come across a sponsored or promoted product on Amazon or any other E-commerce site, then you are familiar with these type of native ads. They are widely used in the E-commerce industry, and get brands to the front of the line. They are also getting more affordable, with Sellers, such as e-Bay not charging for the listings until they generate a sale.

Here is how it looks on Amazon; notice the “sponsored ” label?


BT 201909 marketing 09Paid Search


Perhaps the most common form of native advertising is paid search. These often appear on top of search results. They are closely related to the keyword, but do not necessarily provide value unless you purchase the product. They are also used to promote businesses depending on the searcher's location and preferences.


Cons of Native Advertising


BT 201909 marketing 06Though there is a lot that companies gain from native advertising, it happens to be a risky approach. One critical shortcoming is that the audience might feel duped. Some readers might feel like they were tricked into clicking the ad, and it might result in negative publicity. Furthermore, they can be expensive (apart from product listings), and will not provide SEO benefits to the company.




Native advertising can go wrong, seeing as some customers will feel cheated. However, when done right, it has more engagement and conversion rates than traditional ads. Be sure that you know the best practices and pick a native advertising type that works for your business.


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