What’s the Difference Between Native Advertising and Sponsored Content?
What is Native Advertising?
Native advertising is a type of paid advertisement that is designed to match the look, feel, and functionality of the site it appears on. Native advertising is an effective way for advertisers to market their products without disrupting the user’s experience, because the ads match the content the user is already consuming.
Advertisers have used native advertising for over a hundred years. Some of the earliest examples include print advertisements blending in to appear like editorial content alongside newspaper articles in the 1920s and ‘30s, and brands placing their products to be seen in TV shows and movies.
The IAB defines six main types of native advertising, but the most common examples are:
- In-feed units, which are commonly found on social media and news publications
- Paid search units, like Google Ads or Bing paid search
- Recommendation widgets, run by third-party partners like Taboola. These contain language such as “you might like…” and feature a variety of similar content
- Promoted listings, which appear on shopping websites like Etsy or Amazon, and blend in with the shopping results from a user’s search query
Native ads typically have less copy and use images to attract the user’s attention. Native ads will typically drive the user to the brand’s website, a product listing, or a sponsored article.
All native advertisements will also feature a label such as “promoted” or “sponsored” so that users can identify that it is an advertisement. Because the ads also match the look of their surrounding content, they often go unnoticed by many ad blockers.
What is Sponsored Content?
Sponsored content is a form of native advertising. Sponsored content also matches the look and feel of the content the user is already consuming. The main distinction here is that sponsored content often shows up as long-form ads that appear as editorial or video content.
Sponsored content will also offer the user an advantage for reading or watching, like learning new information. In this space, advertisers are seen as an expert or leader in the content they’re sponsoring. For example, a banking brand may want to share tips on keeping a budget.
With any type of native advertising, it is important that marketers first identify how their brand will fit into the ecosystem of native. Is native advertising right for your brand? If done well, native advertisements can make users more likely to engage with your content because the ads are placed where they are already are consuming. Users are also less likely to have an unpleasant ad experience because they are already consuming similar content.
The key to effective native advertising comes down to the creative. Native advertisements should match the look and feel of the content the user is already consuming, and shouldn’t feel like ads.
Use high-quality images and strong headlines to draw a user in, and make sure to link to relevant content. It is important to not make the user feel tricked or duped, so make sure the native ad includes a “promoted” or “sponsored” tag. When it comes to sponsored content, make sure to work with highly skilled writers and editors to produce trusted and quality content.