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What Is Native Advertising?

By Thomas | Thursday 20th October 2016

You’ve seen this hot new buzz-word all over your favourite marketing forums and it got you wondering: what is native advertising?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Native advertising was little known just a few years ago but it has rapidly grown since, leaving many marketers playing catch up with what is fast becoming a must have tool in every digital marketer’s arsenal.

With nearly 50% of digital marketers surveyed not knowing what native advertising is, most of your competitors will be far-behind in knowing about this huge shift in the digital marketing landscape. By the end of this article you’ll have everything you need to get the jump on them and benefit from the hottest new strategy in digital marketing.

Let’s start with what Native Advertising isn’t...

Native advertising isn’t anything like your traditional and long established digital marketing strategies:

  • Display advertising such as banners
  • Social advertising such as sponsored posts
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) such as Google Adwords

All of these strategies have a very direct aim: to get the viewer to click and buy your product or service. That sounds like exactly what every business wants; so what’s wrong with this approach?

There’s strong evidence that the consumer is growing tired of these often intrusive advertising methods and they’re choosing to ignore them, or in many cases they are going one step further and blocking them altogether.

Advert click-through rates (CTR) on these traditional forms of advertising have been steadily declining in recent years, falling from over 4% in 2005 to sit a little above 0.25% in 2015. Inversely, searches for “ad blockers”, technologies that stop these adverts from appearing, have grown 400% over the same period.

Display Advertising Click-Through Rates (CTR) 2000-2015

Luckily for you, native advertising is here to save you. Unlike the declining advertising methods we covered above, native advertising is proving a hit with consumers.

Sounds great...

So, what is Native Advertising?

Native adverts are what’s referred to as “in-stream”. They’re designed to fit seamlessly alongside the content of the page by not looking like an advert at all. You’ll often see native adverts appearing as “recommended content” on news portals or “promoted stories” on blogs.

Huffington Post

Some of the biggest news sites use native advertising to supplement their editorial content. Here, the Huffington Post use native advertising to offer suggested content that’s relevant to the story the consumer is reading:


Pinterest use native advertising in the form of “promoted pins”, demonstrating perfectly how native adverts are designed to fit within the stream of content and be relevant to the consumer:

Why go Native?

We’ve covered why you need to start looking into alternatives to traditional digital marketing strategies, but why is native advertising the right strategy to move on to? Well, as much as the drop in CTRs for display advertising made clear the inevitability of that strategy’s demise, the figures for native advertising make a strong argument for its adoption:

  • 25% more consumers were measured engaging with native adverts vs. display.
  • Consumers looked at native adverts 2% more than the content of the page.
  • Native adverts drove an 18% uplift in purchase intent vs. banner ads.
  • A huge 97% of mobile media buyers said that native advertising was somewhat or very effective at achieving their marketing goals.

In layman’s terms; more people see the adverts, more people engage with the content and more people go on to buy a product or service with native advertising vs. traditional display. It’s a no brainer!

So that’s the why, in our next article we’ll go over the how — How to Get Started with Native Advertising.