Incredible Benefits of Native Advertising

Did you know that in 2019, native advertising made up over 61% of display advertising spending, making it one of the fastest-growing formats on the market? Based on this statistic, there is no doubt that you should be participating in native advertising. If you’re not using native advertising yet, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about native advertising and how it can bring your company front and center.

native ads

What is Native Advertising? 

Native advertising is a form of paid advertisement. But it is a paid advertisement that functions differently than a traditional paid advertisement. Using written content, native advertising is an ad that is disguised as original content by the platform. It is also called native content. Think of it as the same as traditional PPC advertising in Google SERPs. Native advertisements are usually presented in one of three ways: 

  • In-feed ads: Ads that appear in social network news feeds (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) 
  • Search & promoted listings: Ads that appear at the top or sidebar of the Google SERPs 
  • Content recommendations: Ads that appear as recommended articles 

How Effective is Native Advertising? 

Native advertising is very effective! The reason why is because these types of ads generally get a better reception by their target audiences. Because they do not feel like advertisements, people are more interested in viewing them and consuming their content. In traditional advertising, a graphic advertisement can be ignored as people are seeing so many ads throughout their day. One of the benefits of native advertising is that it allows brands to get their message across with a greater chance that the target audience consumes it.

How Does Native Advertising Work?

First, a brand has to pay for the placement of their content on the native digital advertising platform of their choice. Picking the correct platform is one of the most important steps in the process. You will want to pick the channel(s) that your target audience is on the most. Social media is an ideal platform for consumer marketing. Make sure you drill down to specific platforms. For example, does your audience spend more time on Facebook or Twitter?

Next, the native content is created by the brand to have the same look and feel of the content that surrounds it on the platform. What brands are paying for the ability to “rent” the platform for their distribution? After the content is created and approved, it receives a tag that might say “advertisement” or “paid advertisement.” This creates a little bit of transparency within the native advertising platform because it does not disrupt the experience in the same way a television commercial advertisement might. 

native advertising

6 Universal Types of Native Ads 

1 – In-Feed Units 

If you see sponsored posts appear in your social media feeds or on a publisher’s website such as Forbes or Mashable, those are in-feed units. They are paid placements appearing directly in line with other articles, posts, or editorial content. In-feed units look different from site to site as they fit into each site’s unique user experience. 

2 – Paid Search Units 

Native digital advertising is also popular on search engines. Those top-of-the-page advertising placements that you see on Google are native ad placements. They are the top paid search results that look like organic search results. 

3 – Recommendation Widgets 

Another way you can find native ads on publisher sites, social media, and even search engine results pages is in recommendation widgets. These advertisements are usually off to the side of a web page, or even at the end of an article. They are used to recommend additional content that a user could find useful.

what is native advertising

4 – Promoted Listings 

You are probably familiar with promoted listings if you do a lot of online shopping. For example, when searching for new marketing books, several sponsored listings appear on Even though these publishers paid for those media placements, they look like organic listings. 

5 – Display Advertisements with Native Elements 

This type of native advertising looks like any other advertisement you might see online. You may even see them in an advertisement container or banner. What makes them native is how they are relevant to the website they appear on and the content that they appear next to. Campbell’s placed an in-ad unit on the recipe website for their recipe collection. While the ad doesn’t look like the recipes that are listed on the site, it is still relevant to the page. 

6 – Custom Advertisements 

Creating a new Snapchat filter is a new example of a custom native advertisement. The filter, while still a form of paid media, fits within the app’s user interface alongside Snapchat’s other filters. Instagram also has a similar feature in its “stories” feature. 

What is Sponsored Content? 

Sponsored content is also a type of native advertising. The difference is that it is not a direct advertisement, but rather a long-form piece of brand-sponsored content such as an article or video that lives on a media publisher’s site. It usually tells a story and the goal is to make it engaging. The goal is to encourage an audience member to spend a long time with the content by providing useful value to readers, either by educating or entertaining. 

Some publishers have teams dedicated to creating sponsored content for their brand partnerships. Sponsored content is less restrictive than native advertisements and publishers have a lot of creative freedom to be engaging. The only stipulation is that the post must be marked as “sponsored” or “promoted.” This also means that a brand can mention a product or service and include a call to action. 

It is important to note that all sponsored content is native advertising, but not all native advertising is sponsored content. The difference is that sponsored content is just content. It is a video or photo or article that looks like any other video, photo, or article on the page. 

native digital advertising

What Does Sponsored Content Look Like? 

Sponsored content is a paid media strategy where the brand picks a topic and has an article posted or promoted on a web page or social channel that fits its niche and targeted demographic. Sponsored content can be anything from an article to a video, as long as it looks like a native part of something that a publisher might have done. 

There a lot of collaborations between different brands and publishers such as Buzzfeed, Forbes, The New York Times, etc. All of these major publications develop content studios dedicated to create and host sponsored content. By publishing a helpful article, a brand can position themselves as an expert in their field. The goal of sponsored content is to rely on a company’s information and products. Businesses are more likely to see a sales jump on a sponsored post. 

Examples of Sponsored Content

Cocaine Economics – a Partnership Between Netflix & The Wall Street Journal 

To promote the Netflix television series “Narcos,” Netflix partnered with The Wall Street Journal to create a piece digging deep into the show’s main issue which is violence among cocaine traffickers. The content is engaging because of illustrations, interactive animations, quotes, and video clips of the show. 

Mouth-Watering Reasons to Visit Adelaide – a Partnership Between Etihad Airways & There’s Nothing Like Australia 

This headline was a perfect attention-getter for viewers. The content wants to convince you that traveling to Adelaide, Australia is a worthwhile investment. It is a well-written and credible article that talks about Adelaide in a great way. 

Youtube Video – a Partnership Between Hot Ones & Tums 

Hot Ones is a popular hot wings interview show that airs on YouTube. Hot Ones & Tums formed a partnership for Hot One’s 9th season. The partnership is funny but also appropriate since the show revolves around a spicy food that sometimes requires an antacid. 

sponsored content

Instagram Story – a Partnership Between UEFA Champions League & Heineken 

Heineken partnered with the UEFA Champions League for a sponsored Instagram story. The ability to target users who follow European football gave Heineken a chance to promote themselves as the go-to beverage for UCL viewing. The story is not a pop-up or an invasive advertisement. The content only comes up in between other Instagram stories that a user launches. This way, the sponsored content appears naturally in the feed and doesn’t interfere with using the application. 

Why Should You Use Native Advertising? 

With so much content going on in our lives and so little time to consume it all, today’s consumers usually ignore advertisements. In addition, more people are using adblocking software to remove ads from websites altogether. Native advertising is designed specifically not to look like an ad, making it harder to ignore. As a result, consumers interact with native ads 20-60% more than traditional banner ads.

Native advertisements can be interesting, informative, and sell a product or build a brand. However, if you get them wrong, your readers can be turned off. Knowing how to strike this delicate yet crucial balance is difficult, but it hasn’t stopped publishers from jumping on the native advertising bandwagon. If you have more questions on what native advertising is, do not be afraid to ask the experts at SEO Design Chicago today! 


  • What is native advertising?
  • In what three ways is native advertising presented?
  • What are in-feed units?
  • What is sponsored content? 
  • Why is striking a balance with native advertising important? 

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