Native Ad Networks Explained

Native Ad Networks Explained

You would expect the term “Ad Network” to include all sorts of traditional media such as television, radio, or print. So you may be surprised that in today’s digital age it has become more and more associated with online forms of paid media, just like native advertising. 

Now, remember that native is the future of performance marketing. According to eMarketer, by the end of 2020, US advertisers will devote almost two-thirds of display budgets to native ads. Hence, it’s time to wake up and have a closer look at Native Ad Networks.

But first, let’s take one step back to understand what Ad Network really is. 

What is an Ad Network?

In a nutsell, a Digital Advertising Network is a company – or let’s say a piece of adtech – used to transact media buys between advertisers and publishers. It brings together inventory from publishers, typically classifies it into categories, matches it with advertisers’ demand, and then sells it in a form of packaged impressions.


No worries, you’re not the only one. Ad Networks are commonly confused with Ad Exchanges as they share a similar purpose. Both can be integrated with SSP and DSP platforms enabling programmatic advertising buying. The line between those two is really blurry. 

Ad Network vs Ad Exchange

So, what is the main difference? Ad Networks filter out inventory from publishers based on specifications and targeting alternatives. Basically, like stockbrokers in the stock market, they help advertisers to buy the right stocks according to their needs.

On the other hand, Ad Exchanges are digital marketplaces where publishers, advertisers, as well as Ad Networks can purchase and sell inventory. Just like the stock exchange itself, Ad Exchanges allows advertisers to buy or sell stock in an open market. Since impressions are auctioned, the highest bidder gets the price.

Time to Be Ahead of the Game

As an advertiser, you can benefit from buying impressions across a range of publisher sites, especially if you use an automated media buying software like DSP. A Demand-Side Platform sends requests to several Ad Networks and Ad Exchanges simultaneously to find flawlessly matching inventory among all available sources. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make perfect sense right now – we’ll come back to it a bit later. 

The graphic shows programmatic ecosystem.

As you can see, there is only one puzzle left for explanation – SSPs. Simple as it is, Supply-Side Platforms are plugged into the programmatic ecosystem in order to  send available ad inventory to as many potential buyers as possible including DSPs, Ad Networks, Ad Exchanges or even directly to advertisers.

Since you already know what stands for programmatic media buying landscape, it’s time to go further.

What is a Native Ad Network?

Easy as one-two-three. A Native Ad Network works like any other, except the fact that its main specialization is native advertising. Just like the rest of Ad Networks, native ones put publishers and advertisers in contact with each other. However, they don’t really focus on pop, push, banner ads or other types of content.

That said, there are many Native Ad Networks out there, as well as many different factors that you need to take into consideration when deciding where to run your ads. Also, it’s essential to monitor your native ad campaigns to ensure they’re achieving set goals. Sounds like a tough nut to crack with campaigns all over the place? Well, it is. 

In light of this, advertisers prefer a DSP over an Ad Network. Both of them serve the same aim, provide access to online inventory and tech support during the process of media buying. 

Native Ad Network vs DSP

Simply put, Demand-Side platforms give the possibility to manage multiple Native Ad Networks and other online traffic sources in one dashboard. It allows you to monitor and buy ad placements from various sources in real-time. For instance, with Voluum DSP you can run native ad format on 20+ networks: Taboola, Outbrain, Liveintent, Admixer, WordPress, MGID, Nativo, Revcontent, Smaatoo… It’s just to name a few. 

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What’s more with Voluum DSP you have full insight into the traffic you buy: site domains / widget IDs / application names and the approval process. Plus, the platform offers advanced targeting options and super granular reporting that can provide you with a lot of valuable info.

List of Top Native Ad Networks

No idea which ones should you choose? No worries, we’ve prepared for you the list of the best Native Ad Networks. Go ahead and check it out!

1. Taboola

Established in 2007, Taboola has become the largest discovery platform on the open web. With more than 1.400 employees in 22 offices all around the world, Taboola Native Ad Network is directed forward bringing online users topical and entertaining content, while at the same time providing advertisers with valuable opportunities to acquire and engage audiences on trusted news sites.

At least 50% of Taboola’s traffic comes from Tier 1 countries, which makes it a definitive source of high-quality native traffic. Partners include MSN, ESPN, USA Today, CBS Sports, HuffPost or Daily Mail. As for top performing verticals – eCommerce, Business and Health are doing great.

2. Outbrain

If you want your ads to be shown to users across best known media websites such as People, Elle, The Guardian or The Washington Post, then Outbrain is a great choice. With estimated current annual revenue of $136.7 million, the platform serves over 3 trillion ads to 1.3 billion people, bringing over 9 billion conversions worldwide each year. 

Similarly to Taboola around 50% of Outbrain’s traffic is from Tier 1 countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and France. When it comes to highly-converting verticals Technology & Computing and eCommerce stand on the frontline.

3. Revcontent

Revcontent is not as large as Taboola or Outbrain, but it’s growing remarkably fast. With 250 billion impressions per month, it’s definitely one of the native advertising platforms worth mentioning. Unlike the previous native networks, Revcontent strives to strike a healthy balance between the quality of publishers and being affiliate friendly.

The company cooperates with publishers that generate a minimum of 50.000 monthly visits. Hands down, the United States makes the absolute majority of the traffic. Marketers can reach customers through Forbes, Nasdaq, Wayfair and many other premium sources. Verticals like Health & Beauty and eCommerce perform here like a charm.


MGID is one of the best Native Advertising Networks around, helping publishers retain audiences, as well as driving performance and awareness for brands. Founded in 2008, the company has grown to more than 600 employees, who operate out of 11 global offices in the US, Ukraine, Vietnam, Italy, Spain, Russia, India, Thailand and Singapore.

The company holds the largest share of traffic within a European region. MGID partners with high-quality, verified publishers like IBT, Metro, Medical Daily, Insider Monkey, The Inquisitr, HITC or MSN. What’s more, this native advertising platform supports a great number of verticals. The most prominent ones are Beauty & Health, and Dating.

5. Liveintent

Next up is Liveintent, one of the oldest and largest providers of email monetization solutions. The company works with advertisers and publishers to maximize the revenue generated on every email open while striving to simultaneously improve the reader’s experience.

This newsletter traffic source has the highest volumes in the US. With publishers like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Conde Nast, Meredith, Liveintent takes native advertising to a whole new level. Through these relationships, LiveIntent can target 130 million unique visitors. In fact, verticals like Shopping, Art & Entertainment and Home & Gardening are a perfect match.

6. EnagageYa

The last Native Ad Network that we’ll be looking at is EngageYa. This network  reaches 29 million visitors and generates over 70 billion monthly impressions across more than 4000 websites, covering East Europe, Russia & CIS, Middle East, and North Africa.

EngageYa has a huge list of well-known premium publishers such as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, NTV, CNN Greece, Sporx or Bloomberg. The network has an especially strong focus on the Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Sports, and Technology niches.

Final Thoughts

In the current digital age, the age of content overload, people prefer ads that are informative, yet non-intrusive. Here, ad formats like native advertising come and take over. Native ads help to steer clear off banner blindness, as they bring extra value to the visitor, drive engagement, and most importantly, bring revenue

There are plenty of Native Ad Networks that you can use to grow your business right now. The digital ad space, really, is your oyster – so don’t waste an opportunity to scale up your game. It is up to you to choose the ones that suit your needs.

Sign up to Voluum DSP & test multiple networks from one single platform!

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