What Are Native Ads? How To Reverse Your Company’s Thinking On Them

What are native ads? Many marketers and brands think that native advertising and content marketing are the same. And they use the terms in the same breath because they feel that both terms mean creating useful and interesting content.

If you’re in the same boat, then this article will break your myth. I won’t talk about content marketing as it’s comparatively well-known. But…

Many brands fail to understand what native ads are. So…

I want to break down how brands can unleash native advertising to supercharge their content distribution, and then show you how actual brands are doing exactly that. If you’re doubtful about the effectiveness of this shiny new advertising, then have a look at a few native advertising statistics below.

  • The spending on native advertising is expected to soar as more marketers and publishers realize their benefits. It’s expected to grow to $21 billion by 2018.
  • Native ads will make up for 63% of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Furthermore, Facebook announced that 83% of ads running on Audience Network are native. And 50% of the apps rely on native ad units alone.

Hope that you’re now convinced about the effectiveness of native ads.

If you need a helping hand to convince your company stakeholders for investing in native ads:

Then you can share the brand case studies with jaw-dropping business results I’ll share later in the article. But first….

Let’s start understanding this content distribution tactic better with a few stand out native advertising examples.

4 Scintillating Examples To Answer The Question, “What Are Native Ads?”

I called native ads a shiny new thing. But native ads have a long history, going back to the 1900s. The Newport automobile races were covered by national newspapers and other media supplemented with Ford’s paid automobile ads adjacent to them.

Ever since then brands have been changing their media form to reach consumers – print to radio to TV. Currently, native ads are on all major digital platforms.

It started with paid placements for brands alongside publishers in search engines in the 1990s. And starting in 2010, publishers like BuzzFeed began selling full content length spots to brands.

Here are 4 standout examples of native advertising.

1. Woman Going to Take Quick Break After Filling Out Name, Address on Tax Forms at The Onion

The Onion is known for its satirical content. And when H & R Block asked them to create a sponsored piece of content, they obliged with this entertaining article on taxes. The Onion provided a comical spin to a subject that’s normally considered boring.

The content is also clearly marked as sponsored content so that the reader doesn’t feel betrayed. Further, there’s no apparent CTA around the ad – so its major purpose can be assumed as creating brand awareness. Mission Accomplished!

2. Women Inmates Separate But Not Equal by New York Times

The New York Times picked up native advertising fairly recently – they started in January 2014. But since they’ve continuously been the standard-setters for the industry.

The particular post is a paid post (clearly demarcated by the subdomain and brand logo at the top) for Netflix. It was published in August 2014 for promoting the second season of the series “Orange is the New Black.”

The article talks in detail about the issues women prisoners face. They also discuss prison-reform issues that are also broadcasted in the show.

There’s just one mention of the TV Series “Orange Is The New Black” in the article. Other than that the illustrations, beautiful tabulated research, and videos are integrated into the article. They manage to retain audience interest and make the overall reading experience richer.

3. We’ve Disguised This Newcastle Ad as an Article to Get You to Click It by Gawker

Gawker distinguishes their sponsored content just like New York Times with their subdomain studiogawker. But in this particular ad, Gawker isn’t mincing words and disguising it as editorial content.

The non-ad *blunt* format is ironically trying to promote Newcastle Brown Ale’s website “If We Made It.”

“Is it the greatest ad I’ve ever been paid to call the greatest ad ever? Yes.”

The ad promotes self-awareness and was lauded in marketing circles as it raised questions over the native advertising format. Although the ad went viral, it didn’t receive a universally positive response from ‘beer lovers.’ People criticized the ad for not being funny and not having any idea they could latch onto from it. But even the controversy added more fuel to the fire. After all, it did get even more people talking about the ad.

4. Working Better by Atlantic

This is an interactive native ad by Xerox. It engages you from the onset with their value proposition. When you click to ‘Explore’, you’re presented with an option to choose the biggest challenge for your company.

Once you choose a challenge, you’re presented with actionable solutions by experts. In a subtle way, Xerox indicates its potential solution to businesses while delivering valuable insights. Since the content is presented in an interactive format, the prospects are emotionally involved.

Although it requires more work, interactive content beats passive content convincingly for educating a buyer.

Now let’s take a look at some illustrative native advertising case studies.

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Written by Chintan Zalani

Chintan is an ROI-focused content marketing consultant. Join him at Elite Content Marketer and learn how to grow your business through content.