What Is Native Advertising? The Ultimate Guide For 2023

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Digital advertising has come a long way since its inception. This landscape has changed the way businesses and customers find and interact with each other and with each and with every advancement, this interaction gets a new shape and more depth to fit the latest needs of both sides. On the surface level, advertisers constantly come up with new and creative ways to attract potential customers, like encouraging them to try out a product with a video that promotes a product in an exciting, fresh-feeling way.

But when things change and develop on deeper levels like when major advertising platforms launch new advertising formats and features, the entire experience of an ad could get to the next level. In many cases, these new formats are developed to provide more opportunities for businesses to connect with their intended audience, but sometimes, new additions are made to solve serious issues. In native advertising’s case, this issue was ad fatigue, and frankly, the solution has worked amazingly well. But what is native advertising? Let’s talk about this very popular format and how it could benefit businesses.

The definition of native advertising

Native advertisements are paid promotions that match blend in with the environment of the platform they’re being served on. The concept revolves around low-key promotion without disrupting the viewer’s experience on digital media.

Compared to other more traditional digital advertising methods, native is less aggressive and salesy, with a heavy focus on disguising as organic content and not having an impact on user experience. To achieve this goal, native ads mimic the look, feel, and function of other organic content on the platform they’re being served on, but they always have a subtle indicator that gives away their true nature (like a “Promoted” or “Sponsored” tag).

The origins of native advertising

Native advertising might be considered “novel” in the digital advertising landscape, with it being around for a decade or so, but you could actually trace its roots back to the beginning of the 20th century. Back then, pieces known as advertorials were the first form of native ads that appeared in newspapers and magazines. These articles, which looked exactly like normal editorial pieces, used to tell brand stories or educate people about a certain matter while subtly promoting a brand, product, or service. A reader couldn’t tell the difference between these articles and authentic editorial content on first impression. That became the principle of native advertising: Ads shouldn’t look (and sound like) ads.

In the digital age, that principle still stands but has gotten many different shapes and forms. The advertorial content still exists on different outlets like news websites, but native ads have also been impressively embedded in new forms of media like social networks. The concept was disguising advertisements as organic content, so companies like Facebook began developing ad formats that looked similar to the surrounding organic posts. In-feed ads are great examples of this.

Why native advertising?

So, why native advertising emerged in the first place? You see, ad fatigue has become a serious issue for marketers and advertisers ever since digital marketing started to become the primary means of paid promotions. It basically means that people are getting sick of seeing ads everywhere; From the real world to the online landscape, advertisements are all over the place. Brands are constantly fighting over advertising spots to attract more customers and get the money flowing. It has reached a point where people simply ignore ads and even actively try to prevent seeing them. Audiences find common ways of advertising disruptive, abrasive, and even downright annoying.

Ads can, and most of the time will impact an Internet user’s online experience. Whether they’re pop-up ads, unskippable video ads, or flashing banner ads, they significantly harm the user experience, so much so that people take measures to remove them entirely (like using ad blockers). This is a serious concern for the multi-billion-dollar advertising industry, especially in the digital section where the market is much bigger and it’s way easier to block ads. However, this uncountable number of ads people stumble upon every day is only of the factors that lead to ad fatigue. Another important factor is that brands tend to not deliver the promises they make in their ads. Scams and untruthful ads have taken over the Internet, and people are sick of paying attention to and clicking on them, only to be disappointed by false claims and ridiculous exaggerations.

Thankfully, native advertising has come to the rescue. It’s a brilliant remedy to the ad fatigue problem and it’s a great way to promote a brand without making people sick of seeing ads. Companies have greatly embraced this novel advertising method, and we’re witnessing year-over-year increases in native advertising spend which is expected to reach a whopping $98 billion dollars in 2023.

Native advertising has been a very effective solution. It’s not disruptive and provides people with helpful info, which seems to mitigate their animosity toward ads. But native advertising is a broad concept. It can have many forms and shapes.

Types of native ads

  • In-feed ads: Seen mostly on social networks and news websites, in-feed ads are designed to appear just like other organic content on publications or social apps. They blend in with the environment of the platform they’re served on, looking similar to a normal social or blog post, with the only indicator being tiny “sponsored” or “ad” tags on them. Buzzfeed popularized this type of native ad by putting sponsored articles right in the middle of the organic content on their website as if they were written by their team.
  • Search ads: You’ve probably seen how the first (and last) couple of results on a Google search engine result page (SERP) have tiny “Ad” or “Ads” below them. These are one of the most effective instances of native ads. Businesses pay Google to display their links on top of organic search results to drive more traffic to their website. These ads look just like other search results on the page, with a title, link, and a short description. Hence, they’re considered native ads.
  • Recommendations: Almost all publication websites (like news sources) have one or two rows of “Recommendation” widgets at the end of each article that prompt users to explore more related content they might find relevant or interesting. Phrases like “You might also like” or “Recommended for you” commonly characterize these ads.
  • Promoted listings: This type of native ad is commonly used in e-commerce websites, and functions very similarly to paid search ads. When users search for a product, these promoted listings are displayed on top of the result pages, with the same look and feel as other listings in the online store.

The benefits of native advertising

Native advertising is massively popular among businesses these days because it’s capable of promoting a brand without annoying or alienating the audience. Here are some of the most important advantages of native advertising:

  • You could use native ads to target customers at different stages of a marketing funnel. As mentioned earlier, they have many types appearing in different places. This makes native a top-notch choice for maximizing your online exposure and attracting customers with different levels of buyer intent. You could target people who are on the verge of buying products you offer by running native ads on Google or Amazon, or build brand awareness by posting educative and entertaining sponsored content on channels like Facebook or TikTok. With native ads, almost all of your marketing funnel is covered. You could even use them for retargeting purposes.
  • Native ads actually work. They’re successful in grabbing people’s attention and marketing something to them without being annoying and salesy. Your audience is well aware that it’s seeing ads, but they don’t care since native ads are non-disruptive and actually bring value to them. The result is more impression, more click-through rate, and ultimately, a higher return on investment (ROI). In 2016, it was estimated that native display ads will make up 74% of total display ad revenue in the US by 2021.
  • The younger generations are kinder toward native ads. Research has shown that millennials respond way better to native ads compared to traditional ads. Almost one-third of Millennial participants have purchased something as a result of a sponsored native ad. TikTok Ads is a terrific example of how native advertising can blend into a social platform and grab people’s attention without alienating or annoying them.

Learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of native in our Pros and Cons of Native Advertising article.


Native ads are terrific examples of how digital marketing has progressed in enhancing the ad experience for both businesses and customers. They counter the effects of ad fatigue by being non-disruptive and similar in look and feel to organic content, and also bringing value to people by helping them solve common issues. Native is currently one of the most successful types of digital advertising, surpassing other ad types in viewability and click-through rates.


What is the meaning of native advertising?

Native advertising is a form of paid promotion that heavily focuses on having the smallest impact on user experience by being non-disruptive and mimicking the look, feel, and function of other organic content of the platform they’re served on. Google search ads, Facebook in-feed ads, and sponsored articles on publication websites are some examples of native advertising.

What are the types of native advertising?

In-feed ads, search ads, recommendation widgets, and promotion listings are different types of native advertising.

What is the goal of native advertising?

The goal of native advertising is to promote a business, product, or service without disrupting the user experience. Native ads tend to bring value to users by helping them fix a common problem or tell an interesting story. Not only do they look and feel like organic content, but they’re also mostly very subtle in promoting a business in order to be aggressive and salesy as little as possible.

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