What is Native Advertising?

I’ve written a thorough overview of native advertising on LinkedIn, but let’s look at one example.

For most situations, longer-form native advertising (I’m not talking about Google or Twitter ads) is:

  • A directly paid opportunity – Native advertising is “pay to play.” Brands pay for the placement of content on platforms outside of their own media.
  • Usually information based – The content is useful, interesting, and highly targeted to a specific audience. In all likelihood, it’s not a traditional advertisement directly promoting the company’s product or service.

This is where native advertising looks a bit like content marketing. The information is usually highly targeted (hopefully) and positioned as valuable. But again, in native advertising, you are renting someone else’s content distribution platform (just like advertising), except that you aren’t pimping a product or service.

  • Delivered in stream. The user experience is not disrupted with native advertising because it is delivered in a way that does not impede the user’s normal behavior in that particular channel.

Brands want their native advertising to look as similar as possible to the third-party site’s content. Though the media company wants that too (because it’s easier to sell that way), it also has to put out a multitude of warning labels around the content to make sure the paid placement is 100% transparent.

To summarize, native advertising doesn’t disrupt the user experience and offers helpful information in a format similar to the other content on the site so users engage with it more than they would with, say, a banner ad. (This is good for advertisers, and if the content is truly useful, good for consumers.) In very simple terms, native advertising is one way content marketers can distribute their content.