We talk a lot about speaking to your target audience on their level and communicating on the platforms that they operate on. Well guess what - knowing where they are is just one part of the battle. You need to know the mechanics and idiosyncrasies of those platforms too, because of a little thing that you may have noticed popping up in a lot of media / publishing sales kits - native advertising.

"What the frig?!" I hear you say, as your eyes glaze over.

Put simply: native advertising is advertising that takes the natural form and function of whichever channel it operates. Put even simpler: it means your fits right into wherever it's being displayed.

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The clearest and most obvious example of this is 'In-Feed Advertising' on Facebook or ads in the stream of articles on your favourite news site. They are like little billboards that take the shape of organic posts, except you might notice an 'ad' or 'sponsored' label. These aren't exactly the most subtle of advertisements, but you get the gist.

The master chameleon of in-feed ads is Instagram. Just go watch a story and I guarantee you'll see a video pop-up that is wonderfully-shot, filled with music and not featuring your friend at all, but rather beautiful people consuming beautiful products. Luckily, you can skip right past them - for now.

That's what makes native advertising a bit more bearable to your audiences - it doesn't particularly disturb your experience, like a pop-up lightbox ad.

Want to know what other native formats exist?

Well, those content recommendation thumbnails you see at the bottom of blogs or news articles - BOOM, native! Thanks to tools like Outbrain, your own content can be marketed to prospective viewers reading related articles, without disturbing their reading experience.

Promoted listings in search - like the top few links on Google or real estate sites - they are native AF. Outside of AdWords many of these native placements are negotiated through the domain owner, and are becoming a staple tool in the arsenal for their digital sales teams.

Want to to see practical examples of native advertising? You can use this handy generator (here). Don't say we never give you anything nice!

As native ads are an area of focus for development these days there is a whole swag of different formats popping-up and going away. Publishers are just throwing things out there and seeing what sticks, and they need the content to do so. If you're interested in investing in native, I recommend hitting up some sites, seeing what new formats they have to offer and negotiating a sweet bonus deal on those to complement the more traditional formats.

But remember - if you're going to get anywhere you need tread carefully. If you're too vague or subtle you aren't going to get your message across. But, if you're too over the top, you're going to come off as a greasy try-hard. And trying is not cool.

So why should you consider going native as part of your marketing strategy? Well...

  • Native ads receive 53% more views than traditional display ads.
  • Native ads get attention from 25% more of a channel's audience than standard banner ads. Probably, because it's lurking smack bang in front of their eyes.
  • Native advertising increases purchase intent by 18 percent.
  • 97% of brands who publish across mobile media say they are vert effective at achieving branding goals. Native ads on mobile are perfect for hitting brand awareness and impression goals.
  • Purchase intent has been shown to raise by around 18% more than those pesky banners.