Native advertising is a form of advertising in which the user of a website is offered content that does not originate from the operators of this website themselves. However, it is very similar in form and design to the editorial content of the publishing website and is embedded in such a way that the reader hardly notices the difference. The mixing of real content and ads is intended to conceal the transition between advertising and the original content of the website, thus directing the reader’s attention to the content of the advertising company.
Native advertising refers to a content-related form of online marketing and can thus be considered a sub-strategy of content marketing.
Native ads are usually ads that are adapted in design and presentation to the other teasers of the (editorial) content of a website. They are integrated into the page in such a way that the reader hardly notices the difference between the original articles and the advertising teasers. Usually, the ads direct the reader to high-quality content designed by a company that – in terms of content marketing – wants to engage, inform and/or promote readers with text, graphics, videos or other content.
By adapting the ad to the editorial content, the transition between articles and ads is to be concealed. The reader should therefore perceive the ads as articles in their native environment, so to speak, which should make the transition to advertising easier for him. In doing so, companies do not advertise to readers with clumsy advertising messages, but direct them to websites that usually offer high-quality content with real added value.
Even though it is permitted to adapt the content of the advertising companies to the original content of a website in shape and form, native ads are controversial. In Germany, it is also mandatory to label an ad as such. In Native Advertising, this takes place in various forms.
How native advertising works
Native advertising is usually used on websites that publish editorial content. This includes news pages of newspapers or magazines as well as blogs or newsletters of companies or individuals. The wider the reach or reputation of a website, the more likely it is to be worthwhile for the advertiser to use native advertising. However, the content must be of high quality and tailored to the target group.
The ads, known as native ads, are integrated on overview pages or detail pages of a website with editorial content. They can be displayed in a separate section for third-party content or mixed with the website’s own content.
Native advertising in social media and search engines
Social media platforms such as Facebook or Google+ are, according to their self-image as social networks, initially a free opportunity for companies to distribute their content. However, at the latest since Facebook began offering to increase the reach of posts in return for payment or to distribute posts in a more targeted manner, the term native advertising can also be extended to social media. Facebook plays out articles in the timelines of suitable users in return for payment. These articles are virtually indistinguishable from other posts in the timeline. Other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Twitter also offer similar functions.
In addition, Google AdWords ads meet the criteria for Native Ads in Google rankings. For many searches, the first three results are paid ads driven by Google’s AdWords advertising program. Google has changed the design again and again over the years, so that by now the ads can almost only be distinguished from the organic search results by the word ad.
Discussion about Native Ads
Native advertising is highly controversial. Proponents speak of an effective form of advertising that offers the customer interesting content. This is tailored to the needs of the reader and is less intrusive than, for example, classic advertising banners.
Opponents, however, fear the loss of integrity of the media that publish the advertisers’ content. In the eyes of critics, native ads mix advertising and editorial content without providing sufficient notice of the purchased content. When readers discover that they are being offered advertisements as “editorial content,” this can lead to a loss of trust.
In Germany, there is an obligation to label advertising. However, many websites that offer native advertising try to conceal the labeling. For example, instead of the term “advertising” they use paraphrases such as “Sponsored Post” or “A service from …”. Opponents of native advertising see this as deliberate concealment.
Providers of native advertising networks
There are now various providers who have set up advertising networks for native advertising. They mediate (editorial) websites that offer advertising space for native ads to companies that produce content and want to advertise it via native advertising.
Native advertising is controversial: Proponents see it as an ideal way to play out high-quality, relevant content and thus engage in content marketing. Opponents fear an infiltration of editorial websites, in which users lose trust due to the lack of separation between content and advertising.
Nevertheless, many websites operate native advertising and thus try to establish a new income opportunity. Even serious sites like the New York Times or Der Spiegel are experimenting with native ads. In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter also operate native advertising.
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