Native advertising refers to paid ads that are designed to match the look, form, and function of the media publisher they appear on. They are designed to blend into the environment so viewers are less inclined to think they are actual ads but are rather native content.

You can typically see them as recommended content that comes up at the end of articles you read on some websites. Unlike banner or display ads that appear distinct, native ads look like they simply belong on the page as part of the normal flow of editorial content.

Native ads are a great way to get onto premium publishers, such as the BBC

The key characteristics of native advertising are that it is non-disruptive and less obvious (as an Ad). Many online users have become fatigued with online advertising and will often ignore ads even if the content matches their interests. They consider these ads to be annoying and will scroll past them quickly. Native ads do not however stick out the same way. They do not register as traditional advertising and are therefore more likely to encourage a viewer to click through.

How Native Advertising Works

Native advertising has three parties involved. The audience, the publishing site, and the advertiser. The publisher that offers the opportunity to connect with audiences at a price represents the supply while the advertiser or marketer that will pay for the viewership to achieve a certain goal is the demand. The goals can range from brand awareness to lead generation.

This advertising is a mutually beneficial arrangement. The publisher wants to generate ad revenue while the advertiser gets to meet his KPIs. For the ads to appear, the advertiser first needs to look into what kind of sites the publisher hosts and if their audience matches their target market. If so, they develop content that the publisher can assess to see that it conforms with the form and function of the host platform. Once the bid is accepted, the publisher then does the placement of the ad, ensuring it appears natural.

Types of Native Advertising

There are several types of native advertising that marketers utilise.

  • In Feed Ads – This is what you will typically see in social media news feeds on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These will often be labelled as sponsored or promoted posts and will appear in line with other regular unpaid content you see on your feed.
Example of a Native Ad within a content article
  • Promoted Listings – This form of native advertising is often used on e-commerce platforms. Whenever you look up a category of products or carry out a search, there will be promoted listings presented first. These are brands that have paid the site to have their products placed at the forefront. Some platforms will only charge for this listing if it results in a sale.
  • Content Recommendations – This type of native advertising works by having recommended articles appear at the end of the article you have been reading. When you click on the content, it may take you to another site, helping to drive traffic for marketers. The content itself is not likely to be an outright ad, but will in some way serve to promote a brand or generate leads. The content is typically labelled “recommended for you” or “you may also like”.
Native Ads usually appear at the bottom of articles
  • Branded content – This is content sponsored by the brand but created by outsiders who then publish it on third party sites. Like influencers who create videos endorsing a product then publish it on social sites that label it as sponsored content.

What Is Programmatic Native Advertising?

Programmatic bidding controls exactly when a native ad appears to specific customers in real-time and at scale. It can help marketers secure a higher ROI by optimising the process by which content is selected and presented to the target audience. Programmatic advertising is supported by ad-buying software that is fast, accurate, and intelligent. 

The process of Programmatic Bidding

When constructing a native ad, there are multiple elements to be developed, including headlines, images, descriptions, and so on. Algorithms are used to match this against audience behaviour and present the best-suited content for specific audience segments.

Whenever an online user visits a web page, they create an opportunity for native ads to appear before them. It is at that moment when they are on the page that systems get to work. The publisher site sends out bid requests that are considered by platforms hosting advertiser content. They respond with metadata metrics on content from advertisers from which the publisher site chooses winning bids and instantly configures the content to appear as the online user scrolls down. This process is fast and intuitive, ensuring content that the online user would want or expect to see is seen. This results in higher engagement and conversions.

What Is the Impact of Native Advertising?

As said, there are three main parties involved in native advertising. Publishing sites that allow the ads to appear benefit from being able to derive ad revenue. For the advertisers or marketers, there is also money to be made despite whatever has to be paid for the promotion. Because of how carefully matched the content is to the targeted viewer, there is a higher chance that they will engage, follow, or convert.

The click-through rate is normally higher (then standard programmatic display ads) due to the highly engaging presentation and nature of native ads. Native ad platforms have already begun introducing Lookalike audiences, which can help increase campaign conversion rates. This is done by capitalising on audiences at a time they are more open to consuming content and more receptive to learning something new. This makes it an ideal opportunity for advertisers to meet their target of boosting brand awareness and securing higher conversions.

For audiences, native ads are less of an irritation than other paid promotions. Even though most users will know they have been targeted and that it is paid ad content, the normalised presentation and lack of distinction still appeal to them and makes them more willing to click through and explore. Because it is their behaviour that leads to the particular content appearing, it also means it is content they would likely be interested in anyway.  

Why use Native Ads in your Digital Marketing Campaign?


Native advertising grants marketers the ability to choose what kind of platforms will show their content and to what type of audiences. Being able to customize the target viewership means they can secure better conversions. They also get an assurance on the part of the publisher that the ad will appear alongside similar content that matches in terms of intent, form and function.

Improved Targeting

Most Native ad platforms allow marketers to choose what kind of audiences will see their content. This ability to better target audiences can boost click-through rates and promote stronger engagement. For instance, when a sports drink company has its ads appear on health and fitness platforms where those that have a strong interest in sporting activities are likely to be found.

Better Engagement

Because the choice of platform and content has been carefully engineered, there is an increased likelihood of engagement. When correctly presented in a conducive environment, there is a better chance that the viewer will click through the ad to learn more. If the content arrived at through the ad is relevant, interesting, informative, and/or entertaining, then the viewer may further explore the site and its content, like, share, and follow.

Superior Campaign Performance

Marketers run social campaigns with different goals in mind. Engagement is one of the most common reasons. However, conversion resulting in greater sales is the most important. Engagement contributes to this but is further back in the sales funnel. Native ads drive more sales than traditional ads.

At Phoenix Media, we use Native Ads as part of our Performance Marketing campaigns.

Less Rejection

Display and banner ads are jarring to online users. They dislike seeing them flashed or popping up on their screens and will automatically try to close or scroll past, even when the content may be something they would be interested in. Many users even use ad-blockers to limit this intrusion. Native advertising offers marketers a better chance at having their advertising content actually read or watched by their target audience. As said, these ads are less disruptive and taken as a normal part of the content they normally see.

Mobile Adaptability

Normal ads will often be cropped out of visibility when websites optimise their pages for smaller screens, as on smartphones and tablets. Native ads however look like regular content and will therefore not be treated the same. This makes it more likely to be discovered by mobile users and clicked on.

Heightened Brand Awareness

This is another top goal for marketers. Native ads have greater potential to go viral than traditional ads. They are also easier to share and come in a variety of formats including videos. This makes them easier to share across channels and if creatively done, can become a hot topic of discussion that will build more hype around a brand.

If you are interested in learning more about Native advertising, or digital marketing in general, speak to one of the team at Phoenix Media today.

  • Published on : Monday January 3, 2022
  • Last updated : Thursday September 22, 2022

About the author

As the managing partner for Phoenix Media, Rob brings over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing and running successful agencies in the UK, Australia and Thailand. Starting in a sales role he has covered all aspects of the agency from sales and service to technical ad operations. Reach him directly on rob@phoenixmedia.co.th

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