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What is Native Advertising? #TSOA – Edition 6

Posted by admin on October 30, 2019


In this series “The State of Advertising” we have talked about digital advertising, particularly display banners, being intrusive and disruptive to the user experience when browsing a website or app. 


Bad and excessive display advertising can have a hugely detrimental effect to a user who is trying to find content on a web page. Moving gifs coming from all angles and flashing images can be a real distraction and put a user off. 


Some sites even try to force as many ads as they possibly can on a web page to maximise their ad revenue. This is fairly prevalent on many news websites such as The Independent, a British tabloid, which can be seen below:






In this example it’s impossible to even see the title of this article, let alone any of the other content!


To negate this, many publishers have turned to “Native Advertising”. Native advertising in it’s simplest form, is display advertising that is designed to fit in with the look and feel of the site. It’s easier on the eye, less intrusive, and feels more natural when browsing a site or an app.


Wordstream describes Native Advertising content by saying that it “should align with the publication or site’s established editorial style and tone, and must also provide the kind of information that the publication’s audience typically expects.”


These native ads can take the form of sponsored posts in which the content is focused on a product or brand but in this article we will be looking at display advertising in particular.


The below example features a display ad for IBM, embedded with an article written by David Laverty, Vice President of Marketing, Big Data, and Analytics at IBM. So this is a good example of how the ad “fits in” with the content on the page:





So this is a lot less intrusive, is “native” to the content on the page and feels more natural.


However this begs the question – If it fits in so well that you don’t even realise it’s an ad and you’ve absorbed the messaging and content within the banner –  is this arguably more deceptive? Sure, it looks great for the publisher as they can argue there is less ad clutter on their site but in the same vein a lot of the time it’s not clear these are actual adverts which can be misleading.

At least with traditional banner ads it’s obvious straight away that it’s an advert and you can choose to ignore it. But native is designed to fit in so well with the content that this is not always the case.


All advertising comes with pros and cons and we could debate the morals behind each format all day, but I’ll leave the question to you. Is Native Advertising better or worse than traditional? The jury is still out



The State Of Advertising is a weekly address that discusses the digital advertising landscape and the problems that lie within it, and how blockchain is helping to solve it. The weekly series is co-authored by Alex Libertas from the Daily Chain, and Reggie from Gath3r