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What is Native Advertising and why does it matter?

Think back to the last video you watched on YouTube – chances are, an ad interrupted the video halfway through. If you couldn’t wait to click on the “skip ad”, you’re not alone. The truth is, though, that ads are quite important for both businesses and consumers.

Over time, we’ve become so used to seeing ads online that we don’t even realise that we often block them out completely, but native advertising might be the answer to getting the target audience’s attention again. This is how it works…

The Native Advertising Statement explains that native advertising, also known as native content, is a form of paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content around it. Unlike the traditional banner and display ads, native ads “blend” in with the content around it. This is what it looks like:

What is Native Advertising and why does it matter b
Image: neilpatel.com


How is it used?

The whole idea of native advertising started back in 2012 when advertisers realised that less and less people were clicking on ads. So, in an attempt to fix this problem, businesses started “disguising” these ads as regular content.

Keep in mind that these ads must still be labelled as such and is usually done by adding the words “suggested posts”, “recommended for you”, or “sponsored”.

To clarify even further, these content formats count as native ads:

  • Magazine and newspaper advertisements
  • Sponsored social media posts

And these don’t:

  • Advertisements delivered in-search on social media
  •  Paid searches

What makes it so popular?

Native advertising’s Unique Selling Point (USP) is that it’s non-disruptive, it’s not obviously an ad. The concept started off as a type of umbrella term but has since evolved into three different types.

In-feed advertisements: ads that pop up in social media news feeds.

Search and promoted listings: Ads that appear at the top or sidebar of search results.

Content recommendations/further reading: Ads disguised as recommended articles.

While traditional ads appear separately from the content itself, these form part of the main content and generally perform better since it doesn’t draw the reader’s attention away from the main content.

If you’re still not convinced, here are some of the ups and downs of native advertising: 

The advantages:

  • It targets the right customers
  • It’s cost-effective
  • It reaches even the most “ad-blind” readers
  • It increases brand awareness

And, the disadvantages:

  • It could be seen as deceptive
  • It doesn’t count as “real” content
  • It’s competitive

Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing – what’s different?

Native advertising can form part of a content marketing strategy, but they’re not the same thing. Here are some of the key differences between the two. 

The purpose

Native advertising: To sell a product or service

Content marketing: To gain reader trust by providing useful information 

The tone

Native advertising: Sales oriented

Content marketing: Knowledgeable and authentic 

The main goal

Content marketing: To create and distribute content

Native advertising: To distribute content

Despite their differences, when combined, they bring the target reader and quality content together.


To wrap it up, here are some of the best examples of native advertising:

According to the Content Marketing Institute, most of the main social media channels have adopted the native advertising model as a key component for their paid promotion platform.

These include, but are not limited to:

The main take out is that native advertising works and as more and more brands will most likely be adopting this model in the near future.

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