Content Marketing

Everything You Need to Know About Native Content


Published: June 18, 2021

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Native content is a fresh way to advertise your brand on different platforms without relying on regularly paid campaigns that can annoy users. It’s also a fascinating way of engaging with users in places where they probably weren’t expecting to find you.

In 2019 alone, native ads were over 61% of display ad spending, making them one of the fastest-growing formats on the market.

Native content is finally starting to become a staple element in marketer’s campaigns. With the rise of content marketing, it’s no surprise that native advertising is riding along to boost popularity and performance.

What is Native Content?

Native content is a tool for content marketing that is also a type of advertising. It’s a piece of content (blog article, social media post, video, etc.) that has been recommended to a user following their interests, behavior, or likes.

Native content can be found on any sidebar that recommends other content or articles, search bars based on previously liked or enjoyed posts, or more links found on the same website. Have you ever seen a section under an article you’re reading titled  “Other Articles You Might Like”? Those are all native ads.

More often than not, native content will feature a disclaimer message letting users know that the content they are consuming is part of a paid partnership between the brand and the platform.

What is the Difference Between Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to a target audience online. Things like articles, eBooks, videos, and webinars are all forms of content marketing efforts. Native advertising, on the other hand, is essentially a paid advertisement. However, instead of banners and photos, it  uses content to disguise an ad as original content by the platform.

  • Native advertisingThis is a way of distributing content, present on a domain you don’t own with a label stating “ad” or “sponsored.” This form of content appears to provide the user with some value, but it’s secondary to selling a product or service. Native ads are pay-to-play, which means they’re not free. Their goal is similar to traditional advertising – generating leads, clients, or sales.
  • Content marketing: This is a way of providing valuable content to raise brand awareness. It’s usually a long-term strategy that focuses on nurturing leads as they move down the sales funnel. It includes more content-driven forms like blogs, videos, and webinars hosted on media channels you own. Here, the content is valuable in and of itself.

What Does Native Content Look Like?

Strictly speaking, native content is made to look like an organic piece of content, whether it is a blog article or an Instagram post. The key difference being the disclaimer announcing to users that a third-party brand has sponsored the content they are watching. Even though native content is considered advertising, it is not similar to a paid media ad.

Types of Native Content Advertisement

Some examples of native advertisement include:

  • In-feed ads: appear on news sites, editorial sites, or social media platforms, usually in-line with other articles.
  • In-feed social ads: those who consider in-feed social ads native believe these ads provide value and blend with the user’s feed organic content.
  • Paid search advertisements: located at the top of your SERPs and appear based on search terms you bid on, very similar to text ads.
  • Content recommendations: appear in-feed, but these change based on the reader’s preferences or the topic of the article they’re reading.
  • Promoted listings: these appear mostly on shopping sites like Amazon, Etsy, and now Google Shopping.
  • Custom content types: these tend to use augmented reality to promote something, usually Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook filters are used for this type of content.
  • Sponsored or branded content (advertorials): not to be confused with in-feed ads, these are produced by a  publisher but paid for by a company to promote a specific product or service.
  • Product placement: these are usually product photos used to be included in listicles or articles that talk about a specific product or service.


Since native content is very engaging, they tend to be longer and more informative than other types of content. For example, an article for a website might be longer than their usual entries, a video for a channel may contain more informative content than regular productions.

How Does Native Content Advertisement Look on Mobile

On a mobile device, native marketing ads take on the look and feel of a mobile app interface. Since they look like they are a part of the consumer’s app, they don’t think twice about viewing the ad and consuming its content.

Unlike traditional ads, native advertisements offer minimal disruption to users. Since they don’t seem like ads and their designs adapt to the mobile app they appear in, most users don’t realize they’re clicking on ads. It’s a win-win situation. On the one hand, advertisers benefit from the consumer being more willing to view and consume their content. On the other hand, users receive personalized and highly targeted content that they probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

However, more seasoned users will still try to spot “sponsored content” or will be alert to see if the content they’re enjoying is advertising a specific product. Some consumers will mind it and might stop reading if they don’t find the content interesting enough. That’s where the marketing will work to try and be as relevant as possible for consumers.

Why Use Native Content?

Native content has been proven to be an effective strategy for digital marketing agencies. Native advertising works better than display ads and creates a bigger purchase intent than most paid media platform methods. It tends to drive a target audience that might already be interested in similar products or the brand itself.

This form of advertisement tends to be more engaging than your usual ad content that tends to fatigue users. This is mostly due to the personalization and targeted messaging of native ads. Contrary to a quick and easy to disregard display ad, a native advertising article will keep a target user’s attention for a longer time.

Even if a user discovers and realizes they see advertising content, the fact that they’re at least getting some relatable and valuable information is enough to dismiss this.

Native content marketing is an excellent tool to use during the convert or close stage of the sales funnel. Odds are, by this stage, users have read or seen your brand before. So, they’re more likely to convert and become buyers at this stage.

The goal of native advertising is to generate brand awareness or social engagement. In this form of advertisement, you focus on campaign views, site traffic, and social engagement. You choose a publishing partner and track your progress from there.

However, native content marketing can be costly to scale, it can still be perceived as a traditional ad, and it lacks SEO benefits. These are some drawbacks to native content marketing that keep people from choosing this method over other forms of advertisement.

Benefits of Native Content Marketing

Native content has recently become an excellent alternative for brands to engage with audiences. It’s almost like the digitalization of advertorials. These were spread articles in newspapers and magazines sharing information about a relevant subject, with the intent to sell a service or product to the reader eventually.

Some advantages of using native advertisement include:

  • Custom and targeted content feels more trustworthy than traditional advertising to users.
  • Interesting content is engaged with more often.
  • Higher click-through-rates than typical display ads
  • Native advertising drives more sales.
  • Easy to align within the marketing funnel.
  • It’s non-disruptive, with most users looking at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads.
  • An excellent way to build brand awareness and credibility.

Not to mention, with over 70% of users claiming that they would rather discover products or services through content rather than traditional ads, one could say native marketing is just more effective.

Native marketing is also an effective way to maximize the reach of your brand’s content. When you’re getting ready to launch a new service or product, you can use native content to pull in some readers from social media and search. Serving your content on a major publisher can help boost the number of people who will see your content, consequently increasing the number of shares.

How to Do Native Content Marketing Right

Overall, it takes some practice, trial and error to figure out the best way to do native content marketing for your brand. You have to analyze how to incorporate your product or service into the content in a way that makes sense, not disruptive but effective at selling the point.

1. Create Quality Content

Spend enough time writing content that’s valuable, shareable, and engaging. Whether you work with in-house marketers or choose to outsource your copywriting to an agency or a freelancer, creating high-quality content is the key to a successful native marketing campaign. High-quality content means it’s relevant to the user, it makes sense in the platform you’re sharing it, and it drives a call-to-action in the end.

2. Let Users Know Content is Sponsored

If the content is not disclosed as sponsored, readers will feel deceived. This is precisely what makes native content so controversial.

Luckily for you, most native advertising platforms will take care of disclaimers. Nonetheless, make sure you’re following all the rules for sponsored content. This includes disclaimers about affiliate links, sponsored content, and more.

3. Syndicate Your Content to More Platforms

Most native marketing platforms will let you choose related websites to display your content to relevant users. However, you still want to use syndication to ensure your content gets in front of as many eyes as possible. Spend time researching similar websites that share your audience’s interests and shopping habits and choose these to display your content. Remember, with native ads, relevancy is key.

4. Remember to Stay Relevant

The one thing your native advertisement needs to be is relevant. In the early days, native ads used clickbait headlines to draw people in, but the content itself was poor and not relevant to the user. As a result, this made this form of ads less effective, with high bounce rates, and hated by most users. To prevent this, make sure your headlines don’t overpromise or misrepresent the content you’ll serve your readers.

But, of course, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try different publications to share your native content with. Eventually, you’ll find the one that best resonates with your audience and yields the best results. Just because a publication has fair prices and a large audience doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

For example, if you’re talking about nutrition and healthy habits, but the publication chooses to display your article on an article about the best burger joints in the area, your suggested article will come off as odd to readers. Try to find publications that give you control over where your native content will be displayed.

5. Use Visual Content

A study by the University of Minnesota found that humans process images 60,000 times faster than text. Even if you can write compelling content, you also want to include visual elements to supplement the copy. However, when using images or videos, make sure they don’t come off as blatant product promotions, thus producing the opposite effect native content is trying to achieve. Visuals should naturally fit within the platform and its content.

It’s Time to Try Native Content

Great native content is all about making profound connections that intrigue the reader to trigger an action. Native advertising is the future of marketing. With search platforms like Google focusing more and more on content strategies, it’s important that you integrate native ads into your funnel.

Most brands can benefit from using native advertising. Whether it’s to increase brand awareness or  convert readers, it will always pay off to place your content in front of the right audience.


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