Native advertising is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing valuable content in the context of the user’s experience; it is similar in concept to an advertorial, which is a paid placement attempting to look like an article. A native ad tends to be more obviously an ad than most advertorials while still providing interesting or useful information. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it.
Among the formats for native advertising are promoted videos, images, articles, music and other media. Examples of the technique include Search engine marketing (ads appearing alongside search results are native to the search experience) and Twitter with promoted Tweets, trends and people. 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.
The types of platforms and websites that participate in native advertising can be split up into two categories, “open” and “closed” platforms. “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 and TrueView Video Ads on YouTube. “Open” platforms are defined by the 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. For example, Adyoulike, AdsNative, Sharethrough and Nativo are open native advertising platforms, which allow brands to include the same content in native ad placements on multiple publishers. Large publishers, such as Washington Post, have recently started introducing their own native advertising formats.