Native Advertising Defined: An Insider’s Look at What It Has to Offer

It’s a common question in today’s marketing world: What exactly is “Native Advertising”?

The name says it all. Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it’s located. There are two key features that help define what a native ad truly is: It has the form and the ability to function within the rest of the publication’s editorial content.

Form and Function

When we speak about the “form” of a native ad, it essentially means the ad must match the overall visual design of the experience in which it lives, and the content must have a natural and organic feel to it so the user doesn’t feel consumed by an advertisement.

As for the “function” portion of a native ad, it must be able to behave consistently with the user experience and also act like it’s part of the natural content being presented.

Native advertising is important for any business because no consumer or prospect in this day and age likes to feel like they are constantly being pitched. We are always being pried at to make these kinds of decisions. So from a business standpoint it makes sense to have subtle ads integrated within the overall content. This gives off a natural vibe to persuade people to dig deeper into whatever is being discussed.

Types of Native Advertising

There are many different types of native advertisements that businesses currently show to their audience. Here are some of the most popular:

In-feed native ads deliver a preview of branded content among other stories on the publisher’s property. There are three components to an in-feed ad: deliver the native ad as a part of the user experience, match the format of the ad unit to the publisher’s content, and clearly disclose the native ad as Sponsored or Promoted Content.

Search and promoted listings comprise another class of native advertising. While the content and format of the natural search engine results vary depending on the engine itself and the device through which the service is being accessed, there is one prominent principle that defines the ad as a native ad: The ads in search must represent their content in a format and layout that is promptly available to the organic search engine results.

Content recommendation widgets are just that: A form of native advertising where an ad or paid content link is delivered via a “widget.”

Custom content units are the last kind of native advertising format we will talk about. In the universe of native advertising and how it is executed, there really is no limit to the potential when an advertiser and publisher collaborate on custom units. This group will include examples that will not necessarily fit into one of the types mentioned above, or may be too platform-specific to create their own category. That being said, these types of ads still need to be on a marketer’s radar as possible native advertising options.


Native advertising is an evolving wave in the way businesses are trying to capture future and potential customers. The idea is to not overload them with hardcore, blatant advertising that doesn’t work anyway. Native advertising has had a significant impact on many of the businesses using it. Now is the time to explore how using native advertising can make your content appear natural and organic to all the eyes in your audience.

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