Native advertising involves the use of paid ads that match the appearance, function and feel of the media format they appear in.
Typically found in social media feeds or within a web page as recommended content, native advertising does not really look like advertising at all (unlike banner ads or display ads), falling in the with a page’s editorial flow. Effective native advertising is non-disruptive, delivering advertising content to the reader without detracting from the rest of the page.
As 9 Pandas founder Sergey Karshkov can attest, native advertising presents a conundrum for publishers. Since they appear like regular content rather than a display ad, native ads can compromise the editorial neutrality of the publisher, coaxing visitors to consume paid advertisements without even realising.
Consumer watchdogs such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are lobbying for the regulation of native ads to protect consumers and ensure they are not misled. However, although native ads typically integrate smoothly within webpages, they do have a few distinguishing features to help consumers spot them.
Phrases like ‘Promoted Stories’, ‘Recommended For You’ and ‘Suggested Post’ are telltale signs. Another indicator that is particularly obvious with Adwords ads is the small icon box, which, when clicked, reveals that the content is a paid advertisement. Similarly, a sponsorship credit is another dead giveaway.
Internet marketers are turning to native advertising in their droves. The principal reason for this lies in the fact that native advertising really works, creating a 53% uptick in consumer views compared with display ads, as well as an 18% increase in purchase intent.
Native ads counter ad fatigue, preventing the audience from becoming bored. Provided that content in a native ad is engaging, it tends not to tire out the audience. Many consumers recognise native ads as a form of advertising but don’t care. In fact, research from Stanford University suggests that few people are actually duped by native ads, with most consumers well aware that they are viewing some form of advertisement. Nevertheless, the study revealed that native advertising holds significant sway over purchase behaviour.
Instagram routinely integrates native ads, enabling partner brands to take advantage of the Instagram Shop or Story features. These features enable brands to share posts that mimic regular posts, subtly advertising a particular product.
Native advertising has caused quite a stir for brands, publishers and agencies alike, presenting particular opportunities to publishers in terms of creating a more trusted and valuable channel compared with sites that rely on traditional display ads and banner ads. According to research, 54% of web publishers cite native ads and sponsored content as the most likely channels to increase their revenue streams over the next two years.
The more popular native advertising becomes, the more intense the debate over its efficacy. Nevertheless, in reality consumers have little difficulty differentiating between content that was created for their benefit and paid advertising, despite the fact that native ads perform up to 10 times better than traditional mobile ads.