Despite the rapid growth of native advertising, there are still plenty of misconceptions about the format floating around the digital ecosystem. In fact, many advertisers and publishers even disagree over what a native ad actually is.
At Taboola, our CEO Adam Singolda describes a native ad as any piece of advertising content that “matches the function and intent of its surrounding environment.”
Under this definition, native ads can come in many different shapes and sizes, so long as the publisher makes sure to clearly label the ad unit as “sponsored” content. Without a full understanding of the different options available to them, many advertisers and publishers struggle to discern which native solutions they should employ.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the key differences between the various native ad units people see online and explore which formats might work best for you. By doing so, we hope to give advertisers and publishers a better understanding of the many ways native can help them meet their business goals.
Native ads on publisher homepages offer the highest visibility, but article-page placements generate stronger engagement.
Links to native advertising content are usually found in three primary locations: within a story feed on the publisher’s homepage, in the middle of an article page or at the bottom of an article.
In a homepage placement, users see a thumbnail image and a link to a piece of native content in the same story feed where they see similar links to editorial content. This creates a high-impact experience for advertisers because visitors closely associate the brand with the respected publisher whose homepage it is advertising on. For instance, in the example below, Kelley Blue Book’s thumbnail and the headline is in a prominent location on the NBC News homepage, right beside a major tech news story.
As you might expect, in-article units are found in the middle of article pages. These can be very useful for brand advertisers, as the in-article units often sit inside the user’s field of view for long periods of time while the user is reading. They’re especially powerful inside the mobile user experience, where people are comfortable scrolling up and down the page.
Lastly, below-the-article units can deliver big benefits for advertisers focused on driving engagement by encouraging users to click on their content. That’s because people who have just finished reading an article are often in a discovery mindset as they look for another piece of content to consume.
Text-based native content is best for users who arrive at a publisher site via search or direct visit. On the other hand, video is most effective for visitors who are in content discovery mode.
It’s important to remember that native advertising content can come in any medium people use to entertain and inform each other — including slideshows, photo galleries, and multimedia experiences. The two most common formats are text-based articles and videos.
According to research from the customer experience firm Clicktale, text content is most effective when shown to users who arrive at a given website intentionally (i.e. via search or a direct visit), and who have a specific goal in mind (like comparing the features of one product to another).
On the other hand, video works best with users who arrive at a site unintentionally (i.e. via social media) and who are open-mindedly browsing for any piece of content that might entertain them or teach them something. If you’d like to learn more about the pros and cons of text and video content, you can read our eBook on the subject here.
Advertiser-created native content gives brands greater control over their message, but publisher-created content can create a more organic user experience.
When planning a native campaign, advertisers need to decide whether they want to create the content themselves, or if they want to work with a publisher’s in-house content creation studio. By working with an in-house creative studio, advertisers can increase the branding effects of their content by ensuring that the creative assets match the publisher’s editorial sensibilities. However, advertisers that create their native content themselves can save money and retain greater control over the finished product.
Native content hosted by a publisher gives advertisers stronger branding benefits. However, content hosted on an advertiser-owned website brings the customer closer to purchase.
Advertisers must also consider whether they want their content to live on an article page that is inside a publisher’s website or on one of the brand’s own digital properties. By posting the content to a publisher’s site, advertisers create a more organic user experience for their customers, and they also benefit from the halo effect of being associated with a well-known media brand. Conversely, advertisers who use native placements to link to content on their own sites are able to bring users closer to the product pages where they can make a purchase.
Sponsored backfill helps publishers monetize unsold inventory.
From a publisher perspective, media companies must determine whether they want to use their native advertising inventory to link to content they’ve created for brands, or if they want to use it to link to content elsewhere on the web.
Taboola placements that recommend content sold directly by a publisher to an advertiser are called “Native Placements” These are useful for helping publishers meet the traffic goals they’ve established for the native content they’ve created. For instance, if a publisher created a sponsored article for Wal-Mart on its website, it could use a native item placement on its homepage to drive users to that article.
Meanwhile, on unsold inventory, publishers can use Taboola’s Sponsored Content. In this scenario, a publisher makes money every time one of its visitors clicks to a piece of advertiser content elsewhere on the web. By using the right mix of these two formats, publishers can help clients reach their advertising goals and more effectively monetize their own traffic.
To be sure, native advertising is a time-consuming and difficult format to master. In order to be successful, advertisers and publishers must expend valuable resources to create quality content and remain patient as they develop their own best practices.
But, as evidenced by a large number of companies that are hiring new people to scale their operations, native advertising delivers major benefits for both advertisers and publishers. Through native advertising, marketers can break through the noise and connect with their target audiences, driving branding and performance results in the process.
Due to this success, publishers have been able to charge top dollar for content creation and distribution, creating a win-win situation for both parties.
By developing a deep understanding of all available native options, marketers and media professionals can put themselves in the best possible position to overcome native advertising’s challenges and maximize their results.
If you’d like to learn more about the different kinds of native advertising and how you can use them to achieve your own goals, feel free to reach out to a Taboola representative today.