What is Native Advertising?

What is Native Advertising

So you’ve been hearing a lot about “programmatic native”, “mobile native advertising”, and “RTB native advertising”. Is it all the same and what does it have to do with content marketing? In this article we want to go through native advertising basics: definition, ad formats, benefits and examples.

So, basically native advertising is the type of an ad, programmatic is the process of buying these native ads, mobile is the device type these ads  run on, and RTB is the bidding strategy used to buy ad placements. And no, native advertising is not content marketing. Although it’s easy to see why the two get confused.

Native Advertising: Definition

We call it native advertising when paid ads are made to look like a part of the organic editorial content and media they appear on. If you read articles or news websites, you’ve probably seen them.

While display ads are easily identified on a webpage, native ads match both the form and function of editorial feeds. They melt into the website or app and become a part of the page flow. Hence, coming across native ads doesn’t mess up a user’s experience. Better yet, the native creative evokes interest in the reader and gets a click through without the user even knowing it was an ad. These basically are the most important native content advantages over display advertising.

Native Advertising Examples

The 3 common types of native advertising are:

  • In-feed ads
  • Search and Promoted Listings
  • Content Recommendations

In-feed Ads

Probably the most popular form of native advertising. In-feed ads are placed in articles and content feeds similar to the ones you see on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. You can see an example of a promoted native ad design in a Reddit news feed below:

in-feed native ad


As you can see, there is a “Promoted” tag on the native ad, but its layout is identical to the Reddit posts before and after the ad. Sites like Facebook and Reddit can maintain the user experience of their platforms by monetizing native advertisements that fit organically into the newsfeed instead of relying on flashy in-your-face banner ads.

Paid search ads (like Google Ads) display advertisements targeting the keywords a user searched for. The below example is how Google Ads uses native search advertising to display the paid results at the top and right side of the organic search results:


Paid search isn’t limited to Google only. Many websites can utilize search engines within the pages of their site to display organic searches and run their own paid-search ads as well.  They are considered as native because they appear as if they were organic search results.

Sites that are eCommerce, product, or service driven can list advertised products as “Featured Deals”. You can see below that Expedia has a special space on their website for recommendations of vacation deals next to hotels that want to buy the ad space.


As long as sites only run advertisements related to the theme of their site, featured deals appear perfectly natural and coherent with the organic content on the site.

Content Recommendations

Recommendations often appear at the bottom of a piece of native advertising content. They are less visually integrated with the page but, instead, focus on suggesting a content relevant to what a user has just read. Usually they are located in blocks labelled as “recommended for you”, “see also” or “you also might like”.


Native Advertising versus Branded Content

Sometimes the two terms are used synonymously. Yet digital marketers should understand how they differ. While branded or sponsored content is to build credibility in the eyes of the target audience, the ultimate goal of native ads is to bring leads and drive sales.

In other words, branded content is used to generate conversation around the brand itself whereas native ad is to generate performance. Branded content very often involves some kind of collaborations and sponsorship and tells a story to a consumer. Native ad, in turn, focus more on the product rather than the value proposition.

If you’re wondering which one is more effective – native advertising or sponsored content –  there’s no right answer. It all depends on your campaign goal, your budget and audience insights. One thing to remember is that the more relevant distribution media you use, the more chances of winning you have.

8 Benefits of Native Advertising

Native ads are more and more popular with digital marketing advertisers across branding and performance marketing alike. It owes its fame to eight main benefits:

1. The Best Fighter Against Ad Fatigue

You are familiar with advertising fatigue and banner blindness as both an advertiser and a user. If you are a regular Internet user interested in anything from renting a car to coding your own website, you’ve probably learned to channel out ads. Based on the research people look at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads.

Flashy red arrow to a “Click” button? Ignore. Video ad interrupting your Youtube session? Skip. Still too much? Get an Ad Blocker. Native advertising disadvantages? No such a thing!

2. Higher CTRs

Native ads usually see up to 5-8x higher CTRs than on-the-nose pop-ups and bulky banners. In particular they drive high-performance on mobile devices and tablets, where people are spending an ever increasing amount of time. Especially Millennials love mobile native ads. Based on the research 80% of Millennials say in-feed native ads are a good user experience

3. Great Sharing

Have you ever seen a banner ad shared? Not really, right? Since native ads are woven into content that is informative, they have a greater chance of going viral. According to the study by Sharethrough around 32% of customers were likely to share a native ad with a friend, family member or social media followers, versus only 19% which would be willing to share a display ad.

Therefore native advertising not only improves engagement levels and brand awareness, but also brings a great deal of opportunities for advertisers to build relationships based on credibility through interaction.

4. Better User Experience

Native ad looks like part of the user interface. No doubt, good native advertising can enhance the user experience. When consumers see ads for products or services relevant to their interests, they are more likely to convert for the advertiser and are more likely to return to the publisher’s website.

According to Reuters, around 75% of consumers say that, if content peaks their interest, then they will very likely engage with it. And it doesn’t matter if the content is branded or not. It’s a win-win for both the user and the advertiser.

5. Ad Blocker’s Buddy

Not only do users tend to subconsciously ignore ads, more and more people actively install ad blockers as well. Once enabled on a browser, ad blockers find advertising widgets and wipe out all ads. The rising popularity and emergence of browsers with built-in ad blockers has created quite a scare for the digital advertising community.

How does native ads help here? Do ad blockers also block them? Technically yes, if native ad widgets are rendered on websites using the same javascript, blockers will find it.

It creates a real challenge for native media buying, but at the same time it offers an opportunity. The opportunity to take native advertising to the next level using better quality, tools and technology.

It turns out that what native advertising combats, isn’t the technical prowess of ad blockers, but the core of the problem. After all, native advertising formats are all about reducing the need for ad blockers because ads are less invasive to user experience.

6. Empower Customers

When customers have a problem, they look for a solution they can rely upon, not a product. If a web user searches for “anti-stress tips,” he or she is looking for ways to reduce daily stress levels, not products to do so. However, they may be interested in purchasing a product if it has the required benefits.

In fact, customers highly appreciate valuable native content from brands that seems to want to provide assistance and empowering information, rather than simply make money.

7. It’s Mobile-Friendly

Basically, as native ads blend in with the “organic” content of the website, they are absorbed in the exact same manner and work seamlessly with mobile sites. This means that advertisers don’t have to generate any device-specific adjustments to their ads between mobile and desktop. One piece of copy does the job, no matter where the potential customer is viewing from.

8. Full Transparency

Finally, one of the best benefits of native ads is that they are clearly marked as sponsored posts, so the user doesn’t feel fooled or tricked into clicking on the ad. Thanks to full transparency, web users know it’s an advertisement and as the algorithm is designed to display native ads only where they’re truly relevant, the advertiser receives credibility.

How Native Advertising Works And How Voluum DSP Makes It Easy

Just like buying inventory of any other media format, picking the right native advertising platforms is important. Voluum DSP focuses on bringing native advertisers the best supply of traffic, the most granular targeting, and the most up-to-date insights on what ads to run and where.

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Just check it out, you are 4 steps away from being successful.

  1. First, decide on the offer or product you want to advertise. If you’re stuck there, a Voluum DSP Account Manager can give you some useful suggestions based on the vertical you’re interested in or what’s performing well at the moment.
  2. Second, pick the right publishers or category of websites you want to run your campaign. Also, make sure you set your ad campaigns up with the relevant targeting like geo, device, OS, mobile carrier, etc.  When you use Voluum DSP, you can always use the reports in the platform and see which sites performed best for you. Our Account Managers are also available to provide you with any inventory whitelists or blacklists depending on your needs.
  3. Third, do your competitive research and build your creatives and landing pages. In addition to the third-party spy tools, Voluum DSP Account Managers can give you suggestions on what headlines or creative images would perform better. Also check out one of our blog posts explaining how to create killer visuals and headlines for your native ads.
  4. Fourth, run your advertising campaigns and keep an eye on the performance with Voluum DSP’s granular reporting. Within the panel you can check which traffic sources, specific websites, or even IPs got the best performance. If you need even more insights, our Account Managers are always on hand to give your ad campaigns a second look and give you some optimization tips and tricks.

The steps to using native advertising are simple, but they take preparation and good guidance. Voluum DSP provides that for all its advertisers.

Do you want to find out more? We have some good news for you! In this handy guide we explained some of the most useful native advertising tips and testing strategies. Even if you are already close to making a splash in your industry, they may help you to better understand each and every piece of the native puzzle and get ahead of the competition.


So, now it’s time to wrap up this article. No doubt, native advertising is a powerful and non-invasive form of online advertising, gaining popularity due to its effectiveness. Voluum DSP combines the high-tech programmatic knowledge of targeted ad buying with the great user experience of native advertising to make great ads seen by the right users.

The platform collaborates with 20+ high-quality supply partners to fulfill the clients’ inventory needs.  Advertisers can access +200.000 websites and +40.000 apps with 100.000 ad impressions available per second through high‑performing ad formats such as in-feed, recommended content widgets, and web content feed. And you know what? You can track your DSP campaigns in Voluum for free!

If you are new, you probably wonder “OK, great, I love the idea of native ads but how to start”. Easy as one-two-three! Just read our article about native advertising best practices. Don’t guess check!

Still having some questions? Contact us!

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