What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising. The term has recently taken off as quite a hit in the online marketing world. Even major publications like the New York Times have used native advertising. One great example is this sponsored paid post on its website, promoting the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Though the use of native advertising can seem insidious when it comes to proper journalism, there is a reason all those groups and media brands are jumping on the native advertising bandwagon.

So what exactly is native advertising?

According to Wikipedia, native advertising is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, an article written by an advertiser to promote their product, but using the same form as an article written by the editorial staff. The word “native” refers to the content’s coherence with other media on the platform.

It is quite a complex concept, but we can simplify it a bit. Native advertising encompasses:

•In-Stream Deliverance: True native ads don’t disrupt the user’s viewing experience. So in the particular channel where the advertising is, the user’s normal behavior isn’t interrupted at all.

• Generally Content Based Material: The information is largely directed toward a specific readership and is also usually useful and interesting. An ad isn’t directly promoting the company’s product or service entirely because there is content there.

• A Chance To Be Directly Paid: Native advertising is, obviously, completely paid for by the brand or individual. If they didn’t pay for it, it’s not native advertising.

The whole point of native advertising is to give the user information that is useful and reflects the quality the content on the site, without disrupting the user experience. The content has higher engagement than traditional advertising models, such as banner ads.

The Core Six:

According to The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Native Advertising Playbook, there are six commonly-used types of native ad units.

The Core Six Questions in Evaluating Native Advertising:

The IAB has a framework in evaluating native advertising options. It’s a list of six core questions that marketers should ask to make sure a unit will achieve the brand’s goals:

Native Ads Vs. Sponsored Content?

You might be asking yourself, what’s the difference between “sponsored content” and native advertising? They are essentially interchangeable to many people, but Reuters’ Felix Salmon contends there is a difference, which he outlines in “the native matrix.”

The difference, says Salmon, is that native ad are designed to go viral. And they very often do, like Chipotle’s native ad for Huffington Post. The post, which shows fascinated readers what you can find inside common food items, got thousands of Facebook shares, likes, tweets and more.


Native advertising has become an exciting way for online marketers to engage with the consumer, and a new source of advertising revenue for publishers. “Native” has also opened the possibilities of ad placement, becoming part of the user’s natural activity like how print and TV advertising have always been. It allows marketers to use digital marketing for the full range of their communication goals, from branding to direct marketing. And as it soars in popularity in the digital world, native advertising will continue to evolve.

Any more questions about native ads? Ask us about it in the comments!

Written by Shannon Lynch

Shannon Lynch is an editor and writer for Native Ads Inc. Although she is still fairly new to the world of online advertising, she is excited and eager to learn more aspects of the industry as a whole. Shannon’s education and experience in journalism give her the drive and skills to research as much as possible about native advertising and deliver insightful content.