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?

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 advertising placements. And no, native advertising is not content marketing. Although it’s easy to see why the two get confused.

What is Native Advertising?

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

While banner ads are easily identified on a webpage, native ads melt into the website or app and become a part of the page flow. Basically, coming across a native ad 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. 

Native advertising examples

Native ads can come in different shapes and sizes. But generally they can be divided into three broad types:

  1. In-feed ads
  2. Search and Promoted Listings
  3. Content Recommendations

In-feed Ads

Feeds are usually scrollable – just like the ones you see on Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. Which is why it is easy for an ad to appear in front of a user pretending to be yet another post. You can see an example of a promoted native ad in an Instagram feed below:

in-feed native adSource

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

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.

eCommers, product, or service-driven websites 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 of the page.

Content Recommendations

Recommendations often appear at the bottom of a piece of content. They are less visually integrated with the page but, instead, focus on suggesting a content relevant to what a user has just read.


Native Advertising versus Branded Content

Sometimes the two terms are used synonymously. Yet digital marketers should understand how they differ. While branded content is to build credibility in the eyes of the 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 ads, in turn, focus more on the product rather than the value proposition. 

If you’re wondering which one is more effective, 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.

Native Advertising Effectiveness

Native advertising is becoming more and more popular with digital advertisers. It owes its fame to three things:

  1. Advertising Fatigue
  2. Ad Blockers
  3. Better User Experience

Advertising Fatigue

You’re 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. 

Flashy red arrow to a “Click” button? Ignore. Video ad interrupting your Youtube session? Skip. Still too much? Get an Ad Blocker.

Ad Blockers

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 Internet advertising community.

How does native advertising help here? Do ad blockers also block native advertisements? 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 format is to reduce the need for ad blockers because ads are less invasive to user experience.

User Experience

Good native advertising can enhance the user experience. When users read content and 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. 

It’s a win-win for both the user and the advertiser.

How Native Advertising Works And How Voluum DSP Makes It Easy

Just like buying inventory of any other ad type, picking the right platform is important. Voluum DSP focuses on native advertising so we can bring advertisers the best supply, the most granular targeting, and the most up-to-date insights on what ads to run and where. 

First, decide on the offer or product you want to advertise. If you’re stuck there, a Voluum DSP Account Manager can give you suggestions based on the vertical you’re interested in or what’s performing well at the moment. 

Second, pick the right websites or category of websites you want to run your campaign. Also, make sure you set your campaign up with the relevant targeting like geo, device, OS, 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.

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. 

Fourth, run your campaign 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 campaigns a second look and give you optimization tips. 

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

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Native advertising is a powerful and non-invasive advertising format 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.

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