Native Advertising – Short Conceptual Explanation

Native Advertising is a kind of paid advertising, but it doesn’t look like traditional advertisements that can be found on the web. Instead, this form of media is specially designed to fit in with the look, feel, and function of the content on a web page. It is a great way to expose readers to advertising content in a non-disruptive way.

What does native advertising look like?

What makes native advertising different from its traditional advertising counterparts is the way it looks on a page. Traditional advertising methods rely on display and banner ads as well as bright, flashy colors and images to make it stand out from the rest of the content. In contrast, native advertising is designed to fit in with the existing style on the page.

Its entire purpose is not to disrupt the flow of the page. It looks as if it is part of the page itself. While traditional forms of advertising are routinely ignored, native advertising gets read with the rest of the page, ensuring greater exposure.


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What does native advertising look like?
Where native advertising can be found

Where native advertising can be found

Native advertising looks different than traditional advertising, which means it is also used differently on web pages. Instead of flashing at the top or the side of the page, it is found in:

  • Feeder ads that show up on social media websites in between regular stories and content that has been posted by friends.
  • Search and promoted listings that show up in search engines, like Google, where they can be found at the top of the page.
  • Content recommendations that can usually be found at the bottom of the page. They direct readers to other articles and websites that relate to the content on that page.

Why online marketers are increasingly turning to native advertising

Online marketers are increasingly turning to native advertising as opposed to traditional advertising because it comes with some surprising benefits:

  • Consumers look at native ads more than traditional display ads. Visual engagement is the same, or even higher, than the original editorial content on the page.
  • It combats ad fatigue, which is what happens when visitors to a website stop paying attention to the ads that are listed. Native advertising is cloaked as traditional content, which is more engaging to the audience.
  • It still has a significant effect on online behavior, even though people viewing native ads on websites generally know they are looking at an advertisement.

It is also beneficial to websites because it makes a web page appear more professional and less spammy. That increases consumer trust with the brand, which in turn will encourage them to return to the site and make a purchase.

Why online marketers are increasingly turning to native advertising

How can you tell native ads apart from traditional advertising?

As mentioned above, people generally know they are looking at an advertisement, even if it is meant to melt in with the editorial style of a web page. However, because it is designed not to look like traditional advertising, there are some rules marketers follow when designing these ads so as not to be misleading.

  • When it comes to recommending other content, including videos, most ads will include phrases such as “Suggested Post” or “Recommended For You”.
  • If the ad is leading to another site, and that site paid to be placed on the page, it will clearly be labeled as “Sponsored” content.
  • Most ads will contain content that is obviously clickable. For example, an ad may contain a small “x” in the upper right hand corner. Hovering an icon above the image may also reveal the fact that it’s clickable.

Regulation of native advertising

Unfortunately, not all advertisers are honest. When it comes to pay-per-click advertising, it doesn’t matter who or why someone clicks on the advertisement when the website publisher is paying for the click, regardless of what happens next. That has led to some shady marketing practices that try to fool website visitors into clicking when they don’t realize it’s an advertisement.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are hard at work regulating native advertising and how it can be used to ensure consumers are not misled when browsing the internet. They also check whether companies engage in the practices above.