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.
1. In Feed Ad Units- As the name denotes, it is an ad unit that is within the website’s normal content well. The content may have been written by or in partnership with the publisher’s team to match the surrounding stories. It is measured on brand metrics such as interaction and brand lift. Example: Buzzfeed's sponsored articles
2. Search Ads- are generally found above the organic search results. Search ads have been sold with a guaranteed placement on the search engine page, and they are measured on conversion metrics such as a purchase. They have the same appearance as the other results on the page with the exception of disclosure aspects,for example, Google has the word "ad" in yellow next to the paid post.
3. Recommendation Widgets- Although the ad is part of the content of the site, it does not look like the editorial content feed. It is delivered through a widget. It is generally recognizable by words like "You might also like" or "You might like", “Elsewhere from around the web" or "From around the web", "You may have missed", or "Recommended for you."
4. Promoted Listings- The websites that carry these ad units, are typically not content based, rather they are usually e-commerce sites. Promoted listings are presented to look identical to the products or services offered on a given site. Example: Amazon's sponsored products.
5. In-Ad (IAB Standard)-An ad in a standard IAB container that is outside the feed. "It contains contextually relevant content within the ad, links to an offsite page, has been sold with a guaranteed placement, and is measured on brand metrics such as interaction and brand lift."
6. Custom / Can't be Contained- This category is left for the externalities of ads that do not fit in with the other categories.
Formats for native advertising include promoted videos, images, articles, commentary, music, and other media. Examples of the technique include search advertising (ads appearing alongside search results are native to the search experience) and Twitter's promoted Tweets. 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  or showing "other content you might be interested in" which is sponsored by a marketer alongside editorial recommendations.
For some perspective, note that many experts consider Hallmark's Hall of Fame series as the earliest form of native advertising. The series began airing in 1951 (and still airs today). According to Grensing-Pophal, "The award-winning series is arguably one of the earliest examples of 'native' advertising—-advertising that is secondary to the message being delivered, but impactful through its association with valued content."
Amazon and many other companies advertise their content based on users' search histories, but the difference between native advertising and other types of targeted marketing techniques is that native ads can be promoted through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. It is "about how brands now work with online publications to reach people."
Some consumers view these advertisements as "annoying" instead of useful, perhaps (according to Quigley) because people recall the days of the in-your-face advertorial. However, "if the content is useful and presents something your audience didn't know before, they're likely to trust it and refer back."
The types of platforms and websites that participate in native advertising can be split into two categories, "open" and "closed" platforms: Mobile platforms such as Hubbl have also been developed.
- 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, City, Vivas and TrueView Video Ads on YouTube. Large publishers, such as the Washington Post, have recently started introducing their own native advertising formats.
- 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.
- Hybrid platforms allow publishers to install a private marketplace, while having the option to allow advertisers from other platforms to bid on the same inventory either through direct sales or programmatically through Real-Time Bidding (RTB).
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- Rice, Andrew, Does BuzzFeed know the secret?, New York Magazine, 7 April 2013