A peep into the Native Ad Universe…

by Vineet Singh, September 21, 2015

Native advertising, as the name suggests, is a strategy where the advert blends with the context of the content – so that the reader doesn’t feel interrupted as they continue on their content consumption journey. A survey from Online Publishers Association says native ads include “content integrated into the design of the publishers’ site, living in the same domain, as well as content either provided by, produced in conjunction with or created on behalf of our advertisers that run within the editorial stream.”

It is most likely that you have come across the following labels while you are doing your regular browsing on your favorite feed…

  • “Advertisement” or “AD” (Google, YouTube)
  • “Promoted” or “Promoted by [brand]” (Twitter, Sharethrough)
  • “Sponsored” or “Sponsored by [brand]” or “Sponsored Content” (LinkedIn, Yahoo)
  • “Presented by [brand]” + “Featured Partner” tag (BuzzFeed, Huffington Post)
  • “Suggested Post” + a “Sponsored” tag (Facebook)


Native ads aren’t unique to mega-publishers like Forbes, New York times, BuzzFeed or Mashable. Facebook ads (Sponsored stories) and Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets” are examples of sponsored contextual content in the social universe. A promoted tweeted is visible to the community of users who are EITHER following that brand’s account OR who are targeted based on the brand’s targeting preferences ( Geography, Device, Demography etc.) – The Promoted Tweets is clearly marked as ‘Promoted’ within the user’s stream.

According to Sharethrough — the company of Dan Greenberg, who really first spread the term “native advertising” — it 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.”


A few examples of native ads from around the web just get your think-buds in motion….


… Branded Content – Native Ad


Image credit: Copyblogger

…Recommendation Widgetcopyblogger-slate-in-feed-ads

Image credit: Copyblogger


Clickrain-Recommendation_Widget_Native_AdvertisingImage credit: Clickrain.com

 …In-feed Ad




…Promoted Tweet



…Facebook Sponsored Ads

Serphaus-facebook-sponsored-post-anatomyImage credit: serphaus.com



To put it simply, Native Ads tap the context in the content marketing – in the end it is still a refined way of offering a product, service or a favorable point of view – and all of it is sponsored content.

Very aptly put by Edelman Digital’s Executive VP of Emerging Media and Technology Adam Hirsch – “When we think about the distribution, amplification and ultimately, the engagement with content – that’s where we think about our client’s goals. You have an opportunity to share an article about your brand only to journalists who work at The New York Times and Wall Street Journal or whatever stakeholder audience you’re targeting.”

++Content is created by…Companies / Brands / Agencies / Publishers / Search & Social networks / Vendors offering advertising Space

++Advertising Space is offered by…Vendors / Publishers / Search & Social networks


[a] Publishers at a glance….

Media sites like The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Mashable – who create online content with regular publication schedules – and not to forget the huge audience base. Every publisher will have their own guidelines for promoting native ad content to their audiences.

  • The New York Times: Native ads have a color bar and the words “Paid Post” prominently displayed.
  • Forbes: Shows native ads under the branding “BrandVoice”


 [b] Content Platforms at a glance….

A recent report regarding the native advertising landscape lists over 40 vendors that includes prominent ones like Outbrain, Taboola, AddThis, Nativo and Sharethrough. Content platforms come in 2 flavors…

  • Content Distribution & Recommendation Platform: Ideally serve a widget that provides related content from within the site and ‘from around the world’. Marketers / Advertisers bid on a cost-per-click basis
  • Native feed Insertion Platform: Companies like Nativo and Sharethrough let marketers / advertisers place content right in the organic areas of the website, in the content feed or on the main page of a website.


[c] Search and Social….

Most of us are already used to the sponsored ads that appear n the ‘top and right’ sides of the Google, Bing and Yahoo search result pages – these sponsored ads are integrated into very design of SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) and are the earliest native ads served to the web audience.

As a follow-up act, Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have adopted the native route to serve contextual ads to users – ads being placed in streams where users previously would only expect content from friends.



According to IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), there are 6 types of AD units that are deployed to attain the native objectives. These AD units with examples of deploying companies are listed below…


[1] In-Feed Units: Delivered By Forbes, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter


The 3 most common examples of In-feed units are…

 [i] Endemic in-feed ad: This sponsored ‘story form’ content fits within the normal layout of the publisher. The content is usually crafted in collaboration with the publisher’s editorial team and blends seamlessly with the surrounding stories. The ROI of these native Ads is measured on brand metrics like ‘Interaction’ and ‘Brand Lift’.

[ii] Linked in-feed ad: This native AD also fits within the publishers’ normal content layout as well. This is a promotional Ad and links reach out to the brand’s landing page, editorial content or to the brand’s site content. The ROI of these native Ads is measured on brand metrics like ‘CTR (Click-thru-rate)’.

[iii] In-feed ad: This sponsored ‘story form’ content fits within the normal layout of the publisher – The viewer can play, read, or watch without leaving to a separate page. The content is usually crafted in collaboration with the publisher’s editorial team and blends seamlessly with the surrounding stories. The ROI of these native Ads is measured on brand metrics like ‘Interaction’ and ‘Brand Lift’.


 [2] Paid Search Units: Delivered By Yahoo, Google, Bing, Ask


[3] Recommendation Widget: Delivered By Outbrain, Taboola, Disqus, Gravity

 This form of native advertising delivers an ‘Ad or a Paid content link’ through a ‘widget’. The recommendation widget is integrated within the content layout of the page – and the ROI of this native AD is measured on brand metrics such as ‘interaction and brand lift’



[4] Promoted Listings: Delivered By Etsy, Amazon, FourSquare, Google

 These native ads are usually served on sites that typically do not have a traditional editorial content well – and are designed to blend with the products / services of the publishing site – and these link to a special brand / product page – and these ads are purchased through an auction directly via the publisher – and are hyper-contextually targeted.


[5] In-Ad (IAB Standard) with Native Element Units: Delivered By Appssavvy, Martini Media, EA, OneSpot, Federated Media – (banner or box with text or placed at beginning of post)




[6] Custom /”Can’t Be Contained”: Delivered By Hearst, Flipboard, Tumblr, Spotify, Pandora



 Image credits: IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)


If you are planning for a soft launch or a ‘light-weight’ campaign, native ads might not fit the bill. A 2013 report from Digiday gives a glimpse of the native ads pricing structure…

  • A sponsored post on Business Insider can be purchased for a modest $5000
  • A block of 5 posts on Buzzfeed can cost around $100,000
  • Huffington post charges $40,000 for an article but promotes it for four days


We recommend a mixed bag of native ads based on the comscore – a blend of top and mid shelf publishing sites which ensures a guaranteed reach and quality eyeballs.


Reach out to us if you have any queries:

Email: info@copperbridgemedia.com
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