Native Advertising Explained—With Examples!

graphic examples of native advertising ads

In the last few years, native advertising has become a common channel in most marketers’ media mix. This is because native ads are so reliable for communicating your brand’s message.

Native ads are paid ads that match the look, form, and feel of the media format that they appear in. They seamlessly blend into the content that a user is viewing on their mobile device or desktop. Unlike banner or display ads, native ads don’t really look like ads, especially at first glance. 

Let’s take a look at what native advertising is in detail, how it factors into programmatic, native ad formats, and the benefits of this channel.

What is Native Advertising

Native advertising is a form of advertising that integrates high-quality content into the organic experience of a given platform. Native ad units conform to the design and feel of the sites on which they display, preserving the immersive user-experience while producing click-through rates like that of editorial content.

Native advertising may sound like a buzzword that’s applied to anything that isn’t a banner ad. In reality, it’s much more. Native is an ad channel and format that is highly scalable and beneficial to a multi-channel strategy. At its core, native advertising describes the intersection of beautifully customized native content delivery and the power of programmatic technology.

What is Programmatic Native Advertising

Programmatic native advertising serves each ad unit on an impression-by-impression level and leverages real-time data and decision making to ensure that the most relevant ad is placed on each site, creating a unique user experience.

Native Advertising Adoption in Numbers

According to eMarketer, native advertising spend in the US jumped 37% in 2021, and is expected to reach $98.59 billion in 2023. The popularity of this ad format will continue to rise. In 2022, native video advertising is forecast to comprise 84.1% of all video ad spend in the US, an increase of almost 2% compared to 2021.

Native Advertising 101

Native ads look like they are an inherent part of the page they are found on because they are non-disruptive. Native ads align with the content that a reader is already engaging with, and so a user is more likely to pay attention to them. It’s common now to see native ads in social media feeds, or they will appear as recommended content on a web page. 

Much like content marketing, native ads work better when the content of the ad provides value to the reader. The content should be well-aligned with your target audience. Use it to address problems your target audience is trying to solve, or to provide valuable information that they’re looking for. The information can be presented in an easily digestible format, like a listicle or educational blog. This way, it’s simple for readers to learn from your content. 

Native ad content should add value to the user’s experience so that it does not become disruptive or pull the reader away from the type of content they are interested in reading. Regardless of whether your native advertising campaign goal is to build an audience or drive an action, the first step is to have an engaging piece of content for users to click through to. 

Once you have that piece of content, it’s time to pick a native ad format. To help you get acquainted, we’re explaining three key types and their benefits—with visual native advertising examples!

Types of Native Advertising

The term native advertising is broad and continues to evolve. When it first emerged, it was seen as a modern version of the advertorial. It’s now considered a separate channel designed to deliver high-quality, value-adding branded content. In its Native Advertising Playbook, IAB mentions the core six forms of native advertising. We believe most of them can be broken down into three categories.

In-Feed Native Advertising 

Pioneered by social platforms, in-feed native advertising is the most common form of native ad. The primary reason for its wide adoption is its “mobile-first” approach and ability to drive users to advertisers’ owned media properties. It includes promoted listings and paid results.

In-Ad Native Advertising 

If you’re using StackAdapt, you can also leverage in-ad native. This format uses the elements of a native ad, including image, headline, body and brand logo. In-ad native ads occur within display inventory of a given page. Advertisers can achieve greater reach while still using the elements that make native ads so engaging, when native inventory is limited.

Content Recommendation Widgets

Content discovery widgets are typically found at the bottom of an article. Largely seen as a means for publishers to drive traffic and monetize their content, some advertisers see value in reaching a wide audience in a cost-effective manner through content recommendation.

How to Use Native Ads

Native advertising is a great solution for educating your audience, and there are other native advertising benefits, too. Native ads align with content and blog posts in the way they are formatted, and so they can be used to convey information and answers that your audience might be looking for. 

Their subtle nature makes native advertising a great solution in a world of “banner blindness.” In fact, they are such an effective ad format that the US native ad spend is expected to reach $98.59 billion in 2023

Study after study has shown that native advertising is more effective than traditional digital marketing methods. Some statistics from the Content Marketing Institute on how marketers perceive native advertising are:

  • 53% say it is extremely or very effective. 
  • 90% agree that it can be used to build audiences.
  • 88% agree that it can be used to drive an action.
  • 85% agree that it offers valuable content to the reader and can be used to promote content.

Native Advertising Best Practices

Regardless of which ad format you choose, native advertising can help you build audiences, drive an action, or promote content marketing efforts. It’s a great programmatic option because it taps into social proof. When a native ad appears on a publication that a user trusts, they are more likely to trust content or promotions that are promoted by that publication. 

Ready to get started with native advertising? Here are 5 best practices to keep in mind: 

  • Make sure your demand-side platform (DSP) offers the inventory that best suits your campaign.
  • Build your native campaign around an engaging piece of content that provides value to readers.
  • Consider leveraging native as part of your multi-channel strategy to boost click-through rates (CTR) when a user has previously been exposed to another channel. 
  • Keep in mind that the publisher or exchange may arrange and render some or all of your assets in a native format appropriate for the page or app they’re displayed in.
  • Include post-click engagement in your campaign metrics to understand the reception and reach of the campaign.

Want to run exceptional native advertising campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

Take the free programmatic course: StackAdapt Academy.
Erin Hynes
Erin Hynes

Content Marketing Manager


Erin is a content marketer with experience crafting thought-provoking content that drives awareness and supports customer acquisition. She is also a travel writer and podcaster in the tourism space.