What are native ads?

Native advertising can be described as any advertising that matches the form and function of the platform it appears on. In digital advertising this could be display ads on a news website that blend in with the other articles, suggested videos in YouTube results, an ad in the Google Maps results, and most ad placements on social media networks.

On display advertising networks native ads typically blend an image with text and show up in as in-feed content. Here’s an example from Yahoo News where native ads show in the feed of news articles. Can you spot the Native Ad?

Native Ads on Yahoo News

The biggest difference between a native ad and other display placements such as banner ads is that native ads blend in with the content. Many publisher websites include both forms of ads.

Where to Run Native Ads

The first key to success for any display campaign is to run ads on reputable networks. There is a lot of valueless inventory online, so make sure you do your research when making an ad buy. Here are a few of the networks that we like to use for native display ads.

The Facebook Audience Network

Including the Audience Network in your Facebook campaigns can greatly increase campaign reach by showing your ads on Facebook publishing partner websites to Facebook users. This has a couple of great advantages:

  • Facebook’s people-based targeting ensures you are showing ads to real people beyond Facebook
  • Access to all of the targeting and measurement tools available for Facebook campaigns
  • Facebook maintains high quality standards for apps and websites to show their ads


Many remarketing providers are now offering Native Ad placements in addition to banners. Since remarketing ads only show to people who have visited your website, you are ensuring that your ads are showing to real people.

Additionally, remarketing is a great way to maintain top-of-mind awareness of your brand while increasing conversions by bringing users back. We wrote an article about remarketing that goes into more detail about the benefits of remarketing campaigns. Adding Native Ad placements to your remarketing campaigns helps to increase the reach and engagement of your campaigns.

Google AdWords Display Network

The GDN (Google Display Networks) opens the opportunity to target ads based on website content in addition to people-based targeting. GDN placements include Gmail and YouTube in addition to the huge network of AdSense publishers. Google’s targeting lets you include or exclude websites and even individual pages based on content categories, contextual keywords, and specific placements. You can also include or exclude people based on demographics and interests.

One of the downsides to the GDN is that they don’t maintain as high of standards for publishers as Facebook and most remarketing providers do. However, you do get total control over which websites and apps that your ads appear on by excluding or including specific placements. This can mean more of a time investment, but the benefit of greatly expanded reach.

Getting the Best Results from Native Ads

When creating Native Ads there are few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your ad will be resized and rearranged to fit the content of each site it is displayed on. When choosing images for your ad, choose an image that will work well regardless of whether or not the sides or bottom & top are cropped off.
  2. The image should just be an image. Don’t add text, CTA’s, logos, or buttons to the image. The image is just one piece of the ad, you’ll be able to include text and CTA’s separately.
  3. Keep in mind that the whole idea behind native ads is that they blend in with the content and function of the websites on which they appear. If you’re targeting specific placements on the GDN, tailor your ads to those types of websites. If you’re using people-based targeting with the Facebook Audience Network or remarketing, tailor your ads to include content those users will find interesting.

If you have questions about Native Ads or the best way to include them in your marketing campaigns, please get in touch.