The Native Buzz

Native advertising is the latest buzz in digital media. Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience is integrated right into the content. It may sound like a fancy new term for “advertorial” but actually there are some subtle differences. Native ads are designed to blend in with content more naturally whereas advertorials tend to be more recognized and labeled as advertising.

Forbes magazine made a bold move and put a native ad on the cover of its March 2, 2015 print edition. The cover has a black box on the right side with a headline: “Revving Up Your Retirement” which is an ad for Fidelity Investments, calling out the FidelityVoice branded content inside the magazine. Magazine publishers have generally only placed ads on fake covers, cover flaps or wraps, thereby keeping a separation between ads and content, as directed by the American Society of Magazine Editors’ editorial guidelines: “The cover is the editor and publisher’s brand statement. Advertisements should not be printed directly on the cover or spine.” Well like any rule, I guess the ASME guideline was meant to be broken.


Facebook news feed ads and promoted tweets on Twitter are well known types of social-native ads. Here are 12 other examples of native ads and why they work.

So why go native? Typical online ads are disruptive in nature, so if you are advertising a one-day car sale event, go big with a big ad. Native ads are non-disruptive; they blend in with content. Native ads perform well for industries that have ongoing consumer interest and engagement around content (e.g. education, health care, local interests, financial planning/security, etc.) For these topics native ads generally perform much higher than typical ads, often getting 10-15x higher click rates.

Just how big is native? Spending on native advertising is soaring and is expected to reach $7.9 billion this year and grow to $21 billion by 2018. With this type of ad spending growth, it looks like this buzzing trend is here to stay.

Native Ad Revenue Chart

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