Wait, What’s a Native Ad?

Don’t know?  Don’t worry you’re not alone. Most people have no idea what native ad’s are when it comes to digital advertising. One factor is due to the existing nomenclature of digital.  The term native is used to describe a mobile application downloaded to a smartphone.  They’re faster performing and usually have access to the camera and address book, and more importantly most can be used without an Internet connection.  But let’s be clear, the Learing Lab at ADMERICA talk about native ads is nothing like it’s app counterpart. And while you may not know what native ads are by definition, I bet you encounter them on a daily… err, hourly basis, when you use your smartphone. You just need to connect the dots. 

Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. In short, they are ads that don’t look like ads. Logic states that since the attention span of the mobile user (read: Millennials) is getting shorter and shorter, marketers need to break into that space by delivering relevant content within their focus.  The user’s viewing area when engaged on a mobile device is relative to the size of their thumbnail.  Which if we as marketers are in the business of capturing attention, have a profound challenge in trying to break into that thumbnail sized visual space.  Traditional banner ads are starting to falter when securing actual impressions or click throughs. Since banner ads tend to fall out of the viewing area and reside solely in the peripheral vision of the user.

Every modern social media platform incorporates native advertising in their structure.  Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. Imagine the backlash Pinterest would receive if they debuted a GMC truck page takeover complete with background skins and exclusive banner advertising on the top and sides. It would be a mass exodus from the platform coupled with a social media execution of words.

People do see banners, but they read native ads. And reading requires attention, which requires focus. If you can get the user to focus on the content, your video, your message, within the environment in which they are pre-disposed to consuming it, you achieve greater success. Sure, users may catch a glimpse of a logo in their peripheral vision, and in some ways that glimpse spills over into the subconscious, but if the goal is to deliver meaningful marketing content through a story, the best way to deliver that story is by being the content the user is focused on.