How to Spot Native Advertising?

Nikolina author

Nikolina Maškarić

Head of Content

⏱ Reading Time: 4 minutes

Back in the days of classic publishing, where the media skyline was dominated by TV, print, and radio, it was easy to spot native advertising. Most common, home to native ads were advertorials in shiny, glossy magazines.

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But, just like any species struggling its way to survival, native advertising shifted into new forms and became a crucial part of digital marketing strategies for many brands worldwide. Let’s explore native advertising examples that will help you market your business and products!

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is visually appealing and information-rich sponsored content that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. Often found in social media feeds or as recommended content on a web page, native ads are user-centered, strongly focused on the quality of the content. This year, 58.3% of US digital display ad spending will be for native placements.


Picture 1. Native ads achieve better response

How to Spot Native Advertising?

The master key to good native ads is that it is non-disruptive and exposes users to advertised content without sticking out like a sore thumb. For those reasons exactly, good native advertising examples are hard to spot. High-rise of the native ads in 2015 pushed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into releasing a Native Advertising: A Guide for Business to help users cope with the invasive advertising from brands and more, to limit brands in ad deception!

In their Guide for Business, FTC battles ad deception through the language and layout of how publishers should be disclosing native ads. According to them, there are 10 different ways consumers can identify native ads and all of it include word tags such as Ad, Advertisement, Paid advertisement, Sponsored content highlighted next to the advertised content.
New forms of native ads which emerged with the rise of the influencers, pushed FTC to design a new set of regulations for the content advertised on Instagram. That resulted in the Paid Partnership feature on Instagram.

Picture 2. Native display ad revenue in the US by 2021

Three Principles of Native Advertising

If it looks like an ad, feels like an ad and talks like an ad – it’s not done right. Let’s unpack three main principles of good practice of native ads.

  • Direct-paid opportunity. Working on a principle pay to play, brands pay to place their native content on different platforms outside their owned media properties.
  • Information-based rather than product-focused. Content created for the native campaigns should be interesting, fun, highly targeted and useful to the target audience and to the media channel!
  • Native ads are delivered in streamFeatured in a way that does not disrupt the user’s experience of the platform or the media itself, native advertising always delivers in stream.

Native Advertising Examples and Types

Depending on the marketing objectives, brands reach out to different types of content creation for different channels and media placements. Native ads can take many forms, but these are the most used:

Search Ads

Most used to drive direct responses from the potential users, search ads target placements in the stream. Search ads match the form and function of entries on a search engine results page (SERP) which results in high CTR and impressions.


Picture 3. Search ads example

In Feed Ads

Sponsored post on your Instagram and Facebook feeds are great examples of this form of advertising. Perfected by many brands worldwide, in-feed ads appear alongside other content on your social media newsfeed. Their design makes them look and feel like organic posts to keep the user experience intact.


Paid blog posts

Many large media companies offer brands paid blog post opportunities through their blogging partnership platforms. Forbes’ BrandVoice is one of the best examples. Brands create various types of content, ranging from beauty blog posts to amazing data visualization and publish it on co-branded websites. Presented on the media platform where your target audience is, their whole appeal is because they dive more into relevant, news-related topics.


Picture 5. Paid blog post example

Widget recommendations

Usually positioned alongside or underneath the website’s organic content, widget recommendations are designed places for sponsored stories.


Picture 6. Widget recommendations

Display Ads

Display ads are generally placed in order to attract the attention of a certain website visitor and make them take the desired action. They are usually in the form of an image or a video, and in the ase of native display advertising they fit perfectly in the surrounding of a website they occur on. 


Picture 7. Native display ads

Sponsored Lists

These native ads appear on eCommerce sites. They are hard to differentiate from the rest of the products since they are placed in the middle of the product list. But the key difference is that when you click on it you’re redirected to the advertiser’s website.


Picture 8. Sponsored lists

Google Loves Native, What About You?

Native ads are one of the rising stars amongst the ad forms. Consumed by a targeted audience, it results in the brand’s creativity and content adored by Google itself. Using the right media platforms, native can help brands speed up growth and become relevant to their users.

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How to Spot Native Advertising? was last modified: June 23rd, 2021 by Milica Vujasin
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