If you’ve ever clicked on a piece of “Sponsored Content”, “Promoted Content” or “Branded Content”, you’ve engaged with a native ad. Did you realize it was an ad when you clicked it?

A growing number of marketers are looking to native advertising to help solve an increasingly-common problem for brands online: “banner blindness”. Internet-connected consumers have become oversaturated with thousands of digital messages and notifications every single day, and have become desensitized to traditional forms of digital advertising (like banner ads). This new channel allows marketers to create and strategically place content experiences in front of the right audiences at the right times – and it’s definitely working.

What is native advertising?  

Native advertising is a form of content marketing – a type of paid media in which the ad itself follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. In other words, effective native ads don’t look or feel like ads at all – they’re user-friendly content experiences designed by brands to engage users who are already in a content consumption mode.


Native is considered a “discovery” marketing channel – one that is supplementary to direct response channels online. By focusing on lifetime value and upper-funnel awareness with native messaging, marketers are able to craft memorable brand introductions and serve them to large, targeted pools of potential customers through platforms like Taboola, Outbrain and Yahoo Gemini.

But native goes beyond brand introductions; it’s also a valuable channel for amplifying specific messaging to consumers further down the conversion funnel. By serving multiple engagement touchpoints to the same set of targeted customers (potential or existing), marketers can lift purchase intent overtime and also remarket to users who engaged with any campaign content.


Great native advertising is more than just a catchy headline

The success of native campaigns depends just as much on the destination content as it does the headlines and creative users are initially engaging with. You can serve the most eye-catching ad to the most targeted user possible, but if the page they land on isn’t optimized for a specific conversion action, you’re essentially spending brand awareness dollars on a disappointing user experience.

This content landing page from Dollar Shave Club is bookmark-worthy (and yes, they promote this page with Taboola). The entire content experience is 100% on-brand and optimized for multiple conversion actions, including taking readers to the home page and the product page. They accomplish this not only with strategically-hyperlinked copy, but also multiple responsive call-to-action buttons that are impossible to miss.


The future of native advertising

We’re really excited about this space – and so are a number of high-profile investment companies. In the last two years alone, native advertising technology leaders Taboola and Outbrain have raised hundreds of millions of dollars from Fidelity Management, Comcast Ventures and others to continue developing their content recommendation algorithms. Over 500 million users are served over 200 billion content recommendations every single month – and those are just Taboola’s numbers.

As an infinite amount of content continues to bombard consumers online, leveraging unique, effective content marketing has become more important than ever before. We predict native advertising will eventually become an essential part of any content strategy within the next few years, but we’re excited to be ahead of that trend and creating value through native for 3Q clients going into 2016.

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Dave Hennessy
Dave Hennessy joined 3Q Digital in October 2015 with a background in multi-channel content strategy and social media management. Dave graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Marketing Communications and a passion for innovative technology and storytelling. In his free time, Dave is a songwriter/producer, fantasy football addict, and ocean/coast dweller.