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What’s the difference between native and display advertising?

When it comes to advertising, we marketers have been trained to strive for something that stands out from the crowd. The goal is to capture attention, and to do that effectively advertisers develop a visual and written message designed to “cut through the clutter.”

Native advertising, in contrast to its flashier display ad counterparts, is designed to blend in with the organic content it’s surrounded by. A well-done native ad might not even be recognized as an ad at all if you’re none the wiser. Unlike an advertorial, it’s not overtly salesy, but rather focused on providing valuable, relevant content to the viewer, in hopes that the viewer might enjoy that content enough to click through to the advertiser’s own site. Even if they don’t engage by clicking, the brand can still begin to establish credibility as a reliable resource.

How to recognize a native ad

Since these ads blend in so well on the respective platform, it can be challenging to identify them immediately. Keep an eye out for words like “Sponsored,” “Paid Program,” “From our Partner,” or look for content that’s authored by a business that’s not the outlet you’re viewing the content on.

Native ads can take many forms

Depending on the channel, native advertising can appear in any number of formats.

  1. Blog posts or articles. Craft this type of written content to cater to the channel you’re advertising on. Creating a seamless transition between organic content and your own sponsored content makes it more likely for audiences to engage with your article.

  2. Infographics. If you’re aiming for visual appeal, infographics can be the way to share your content. These work particularly well if you have statistics or other data to share that can be easily conveyed with numbers and simple visuals.

  3. Reports or guides. Native advertising can be focused on promoting highly-valuable content such as reports, primers or guides. This long-form content is meant for download, often in exchange for the user’s contact information which might be the catalyst for an automated nurturing campaign to stay in touch.

Audiences find native content more engaging

Consider the negative associations many of us have with ads interrupting our content. If the content you’re being served isn’t of immediate interest, it likely registers as no more than something to scroll past on your way to what you’ve actually come to the channel for. The goal of native ads is to provide content that stops the scrolling and provides value to the viewer.

According to a Sharethrough study, consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads. Native ads registered 18% higher lift in purchase intent and 9% lift for brand affinity responses than banner ads, and users spent a similar amount of time viewing native content as they did original editorial content.

Native advertising is just one of many viable advertising options in a multimedia advertising mix. If your brand has an inventory of content that offers knowledge, resources and value to your audience, you likely have the foundation of a native advertising at your disposal. The next step is to identify your goals with a native advertising campaign, select an online advertising outlet or media partner that reaches your target audience, and build a test-and-learn plan.


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