A native ad is an advertisement that is designed to blend seamlessly into natural content published on a website or app. An example of native advertising is paid video content on the YouTube mobile app. Here, media is designed to match the visual design of natural content, appearing in the user’s feed of recommended videos.

Native advertising presents the opportunity for brands to connect with users in a format of the user’s choosing. It is therefore far less intrusive than traditional advertising formats like flash ads or banners, which in many cases alienate the site visitor rather than enticing them to click.

The biggest incentives for publishing contextually relevant native ads are higher click-through rates (CTRs) and increased conversions. Native ads provide an excellent opportunity for creative exposure, presenting the opportunity for advertisers to distribute creative, customized in-app content.

9 Pandas advertising agency co-founder Sergey Karshkov has extensive experience and expertise in digital marketing. As he can attest, native advertising creates a conundrum for marketers and web publishers alike. Though highly effective, the fact that native ads blend so seamlessly with natural content poses the potential to compromise the publisher’s editorial neutrality, presenting scope for consumers to click on paid ads without recognizing them as advertisements.

Consumer watchdogs such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Interactive Advertising Bureau are lobbying for regulation of native ads to protect consumers from being misled. However, despite native ads generally integrating smoothly within natural content, they do incorporate several distinguishing features that make them relatively easy to spot.

Phrases like ‘Suggested Post’, ‘Recommended For You’, and ‘Promoted Stories’ are all telltale indicators. The small icon box on a Google Ads advertisement is a particularly obvious sign that a click will reveal a paid advertisement.

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Internet marketers are embracing native advertising in their droves for one simple reason: it is extremely effective, triggering an 18% increase in purchase intent and a 53% uptick in views compared with traditional display ads.

Native ads are an effective antidote to ad fatigue, preventing the audience from becoming bored. Provided that content is engaging, audiences tend not to tire of native ads.

In reality, many consumers recognize native ads as advertising but simply do not care, with research from Stanford University suggesting that few people are duped by native ads in reality, with most consumers recognizing that they are viewing a form of advertising.

The more mainstream native ads become, the greater the debate over their efficacy. This relatively new mode of advertising is causing a stir for publishers, brands, and agencies alike. Despite concerns from consumer groups, research shows that most consumers have little difficulty distinguishing native ads from natural content. 

Native advertising undeniably creates significant opportunities for publishers to create a more valuable and trusted channel compared with traditional display ads. Not only that, but native ads perform up to 10 times better than traditional mobile ads, presenting the huge potential for marketers to not only increase CTRs and conversions but also enhance user experiences at the same time.

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