Clients commonly ask, “Are you going to include native advertising in my blueprint? Because apparently I need it.”

“Do you know what native advertising is?” I reply.

“No. But I need it.”

The term native advertising recently experienced a huge surge in popularity, but like the phrase big data, no one could succinctly define it. So, here you go:

Native advertising

“paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”

Many thanks to the good people at Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) for this definition.

There are six types of native advertising…

1. In-Feed Ads

These ads show up in your main newsfeed. Examples of this include ads you see in your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram main feeds. Also, YouTube ads that play prior to a video are a type of in-feed ad. It’s usually termed as “Sponsored” or “Promoted” content. This is one of the main forms of current advertising, and used by businesses large and small.

2. Paid Search Ads

These ads are the ones that appear at the top and right column of search results. They are similar in content, but highlighted in bold font and a lightbox to give them more weight and attract the viewer’s eye. They have to follow length and content restrictions, and are used in paid campaigns. Good for those with a healthy ad spend budget who want to build visibility quickly or gain a competitive edge when they roll out a new product.

3. Recommendations

Recommendations are served up to readers via a widget such as a tab, pop-up, or embedded link that leads them elsewhere (typically to another page or website). Using language such as “If you like this…” or “Recommended for you,” these ads target and guarantee warm leads because they’re already interested in a topic similar to what you’re offering.

4. Promoted Listings

Businesses can promote their items or shops by paying for promoted listings on larger websites, such as Amazon, Etsy, search engines such as Google, or within online magazines. They stand out from the crowd, but still relate to the content on the rest of the page. This is pretty straightforward, and if a site is publicly growing, could be a smart investment with plenty of ROI.

5. In-Ad with Native Elements

This ad appears like a traditional banner ad, but with contextually relevant stuff. Like a regular ad, it leads visitors to another website. When purchasing this kind of ad, businesses should be guaranteed that the environment in which their ad will be placed contains similar content to what they are offering, thus appearing “native” and naturally paired with the article or rest of the page layout.

6. Custom Native Ads

Custom native ads are just that: custom, one-of-a-kind campaigns that get outside the box. An excellent example of custom ads are music or video playlists that are created by a company and placed on a service such as Spotify or YouTube. These not only create instant shared content, but also generate warm to hot traffic for the company.

The two keys to native advertising? Smart targeting and relevant, powerful content.

And yes, Bright Planning includes native ad strategies in our marketing blueprints. We pick native ad campaigns that will fit best for a client’s particular industry, target market, and budget.

I highly recommend downloading the IAB Native Advertising Playbook to learn more. Also, practice designing native ads “off screen” to refine the copy you want and A/B test for best results.