Native advertising

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Native advertising is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user's experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. One form of native advertising, publisher-produced brand content, is similar in concept to a traditional advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article. A native ad tends to be more obviously an ad than most advertorials.[1] The advertiser's intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.[2]

In his Harvard Business Review blog piece, Mitch Joel was the first to raise the question on the need to re-define native advertising.[3] Fahad Khan defines native advertising as follows: "Native ads are ads in a format that is native to the platform on which they are run, bought or sold. Native advertising is the activity of producing, buying and selling native ads."[4]

Among the formats for native advertising are promoted videos, images, articles, music and other media.[5] Examples of the technique include Search engine marketing (ads appearing alongside search results are native to the search experience) and Twitter with promoted Tweets, trends and people. Other examples include Facebook's promoted stories or Tumblr's promoted posts. Content marketing is another form of native advertising, placing sponsor-funded content alongside editorial content [6] or showing "other content you might be interested in" which is sponsored by a marketer alongside editorial recommendations.[7]

The types of platforms and websites that participate in native advertising can be split into two categories, “open” and “closed” platforms. “Closed” platforms are brands creating profiles and/or content within a platform, then promoting that content within the confines of that same closed platform. Examples include Promoted Tweets on Twitter, Sponsored Stories on Facebook and TrueView Video Ads on YouTube. “Open” platforms are defined by promoting the same piece of branded content across multiple platforms within native ad formats. Unlike closed platforms, the branded content asset lives outside the platform. For example, Adyoulike, AdsNative, Sharethrough and Nativo are open native advertising platforms, which allow brands to include the same content in native ad placements on multiple publishers.[8] Large publishers, such as Washington Post, have recently started introducing their own native advertising formats.[9]


Advertorial in printed media demonstrate native advertising where bloggers are established as credible authorities but in fact are recommending brands they are paid to recommend and by definition are conflicted.[10]

More subtle forms of native advertising with less of an ethical backlash began emerging on Facebook in 2012 and 2013 where brands captured photos or videos of guests and overlaid a logo or brand message and then posted to either the guest's own Facebook page or the brand's corporate page on Facebook. The global premiere of The Hobbit feature film is a good example where Facebook created native advertising[11][dead link] for Warner Brothers by taking pictures of VIPs and putting the Hobbit logo at the bottom of each photograph. The event generated hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook because of the viral nature of the photos within each guests social graph.

Twitter's base advertising product MoPub is based entirely on creating native ads within the Twitter stream such that posts from brands fit into the context around the rest of the user's Twitter updates. MoPub has been very successful in generating not only click-through to websites (lead generation) but even so far as direct sale of gaming applications.[12]

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