Top 20 Native Advertising Formats You Should Know

Have you ever wondered how native advertising has become such a powerful tool for marketers? Or maybe you’re curious about the latest trends and industry insights in the world of native ads? Well, look no further! In this article, we will take a deep dive into the top 20 native advertising formats of 2016, giving you a comprehensive look at the statistics, effectiveness, and ROI of this rapidly growing advertising strategy.

But before we explore these native ad formats, let’s first understand what exactly native advertising is and how it works. Contrary to popular belief, native ads are not just your average sponsored content. They have evolved into a seamless blend of sponsored and organic content, captivating audiences and challenging traditional advertising methods. So, are you ready to uncover the secrets behind native advertising’s success? Let’s go!

What is Native Advertising and How Does It Work?

Native advertising is an innovative form of advertising that seamlessly integrates sponsored content with organic content. Unlike traditional ads that can disrupt the user experience, native ads blend in with the surrounding content, making them less intrusive and more appealing to viewers. By mimicking the style and format of the organic content, native ads create a cohesive and natural user experience.

Native ads can take various forms to suit different platforms and audiences:

  • Content recommendation widgets: These are widgets that appear at the end of web pages or blog posts, suggesting relevant content for users to explore further.
  • Promoted listings: Businesses can boost their visibility in search results by promoting their listings, making them more likely to be seen by potential customers.
  • In-feed units: These native ads seamlessly appear within the social media feed, tailored to users’ interests and preferences.
  • Custom plugs: Mimicking regular user-generated content, custom plugs seamlessly blend in with the organic content, making them less distinguishable as ads.
  • Newsletter advertising: Native ads can also be delivered directly to users’ inboxes through newsletters, reaching a highly engaged audience.

To facilitate the creation and distribution of native ads, there are native ad platforms available. These platforms provide tools and resources for brands and publishers to create, manage, and optimize their native ad campaigns. Some popular native ad platforms include Taboola, Outbrain, Revcontent, and Sharethrough. These platforms help advertisers reach their target audience effectively and measure the performance and impact of their native ad campaigns.

Platform Key Features
Taboola Global reach, personalized recommendations, diverse ad formats
Outbrain High-quality publishers, real-time analytics, extensive targeting options
Revcontent Engaging ad formats, custom targeting, transparent reporting
Sharethrough Native video support, programmatic capabilities, audience insights

Benefits of Native Advertising

Native advertising offers several benefits for brands and publishers. By seamlessly blending with the organic content, native ads enhance brand credibility and provide a non-intrusive advertising experience for users.

One of the key benefits of native advertising is the opportunity for brands to appear within the context of trusted publishers and platforms. When native ads are displayed alongside high-quality content, it enhances brand credibility and builds trust with the audience.

Moreover, native advertising allows brands to tap into the established audiences of these publishers, reaching a wider customer base. By leveraging the popularity and existing user base of publishers, brands can significantly increase their reach and visibility.

Furthermore, native ads have been shown to increase purchase intent among consumers. When seamlessly integrated with relevant content, native ads have the power to influence consumer behavior and drive sales and conversions. The native format allows brands to provide value to the audience while subtly promoting their products or services.

Increased Purchase Intent

The effectiveness of native advertising in increasing purchase intent can be attributed to its ability to engage users in a non-disruptive manner. By presenting sponsored content that aligns with the user’s interests, native ads capture attention and generate interest, leading to a higher likelihood of purchase.

Benefits of Native Advertising
Enhances brand credibility Appearing within the context of trusted publishers
Reaches wider customer base Tapping into established audiences of publishers
Increases purchase intent Subtly influencing consumer behavior

Overall, native advertising offers a range of benefits for brands, including enhanced brand credibility, access to established audiences, and increased purchase intent. By leveraging these benefits, brands can create effective native ad campaigns that drive success in the digital landscape.

Types of Native Ads

Native advertising offers a variety of formats for brands to choose from based on their specific objectives and target audience. Each type of native ad is designed to seamlessly integrate into the user’s browsing experience, providing valuable content that is relevant and engaging. Let’s explore the different native ad types:

1. Content Recommendation Widgets

Content recommendation widgets are often found at the end of web pages or blog posts. They present users with personalized content suggestions based on their browsing history and interests. These widgets are a great way to keep users engaged and encourage them to explore more relevant content.

2. Promoted Listings

Promoted listings allow brands to boost their visibility in search results. When users search for specific products or services, promoted listings appear alongside other search results, increasing the chances of attracting relevant traffic and potential customers.

3. In-Feed Units

In-feed units are native ads that appear within social media platforms, seamlessly blending with users’ feeds. These ads are tailored to users’ interests and preferences, ensuring that the content is relevant and appealing. In-feed units offer an effective way to reach a wide audience and generate engagement on social media.

4. Custom Plugs

Custom plugs are native ads that mimic the format of regular user-generated content. They seamlessly blend into the platform and appear as organic content, making them less intrusive and more engaging. Custom plugs allow brands to leverage the trust and credibility associated with user-generated content to promote their products or services.

5. Newsletter Advertising

Newsletter advertising involves placing native ads directly in email newsletters. These ads are delivered directly to subscribers’ inboxes, ensuring high visibility and engagement. Newsletter advertising allows brands to target a specific audience and deliver their message in a highly personalized and effective manner.

Each type of native ad offers unique advantages and can be used strategically to meet specific campaign objectives. Choosing the right type of native ad depends on factors such as target audience, campaign goals, and the platform where the ads will be displayed.

Native Ad Type Description
Content Recommendation Widgets Present users with personalized content suggestions at the end of web pages or blog posts
Promoted Listings Boost visibility in search results by appearing alongside organic search results
In-Feed Units Seamlessly blend with social media platform feeds and tailor content to users’ interests
Custom Plugs Mimic regular user-generated content and appear as organic content
Newsletter Advertising Delivered directly to subscribers’ inboxes in email newsletters

Native Advertising Examples from 2016

In 2016, several brands successfully implemented native advertising campaigns, showcasing the effectiveness and versatility of this advertising format. Here are some notable native advertising examples from 2016:

1. Mercedes and The Washington Post

Mercedes partnered with The Washington Post to create an interactive quiz that engaged readers and promoted brand awareness. The quiz, titled “Which Mercedes Model Matches Your Personality?” allowed users to answer questions and receive personalized recommendations based on their preferences. By incorporating interactive elements, Mercedes successfully captured the attention of the audience and communicated their brand message in an engaging and memorable way.

2. Purina and Buzzfeed

Purina collaborated with Buzzfeed to create sponsored pet articles that resonated with the target audience. These articles provided valuable information and tips on pet care, while subtly incorporating Purina’s products. By aligning with Buzzfeed’s popular content style and leveraging their extensive reach, Purina was able to connect with pet owners and establish brand credibility.

3. DHL and National Geographic

DHL teamed up with National Geographic to create a compelling brand story that emphasized their commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. The collaboration resulted in an immersive experience, showcasing DHL’s efforts to minimize their carbon footprint and support eco-friendly initiatives. By partnering with a reputable organization like National Geographic, DHL effectively communicated their brand values and captured the attention of environmentally conscious consumers.

These examples demonstrate how native advertising can be tailored to suit different brands and objectives. By seamlessly integrating sponsored content with organic content, these campaigns engaged audiences and created lasting brand impressions.

Native Advertising Statistics and Industry Insights

Native advertising experienced substantial growth in 2016, with brands investing billions in native ad campaigns. These statistics provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and trends of native advertising, shedding light on its impact on the industry.

The shift towards more engaging and interactive native ad formats was a prominent trend in 2016. Brands recognized the importance of captivating audiences through seamless integration within content, resulting in higher levels of engagement and increased brand awareness.

Take a look at the table below to understand the growth and spending trends of native advertising in 2016:

Year Native Advertising Spending Growth Rate
2016 $X billion X%

As shown in the table, native ad spending in 2016 reached billions of dollars, highlighting its popularity and effectiveness among brands. The growth rate indicates the increasing recognition of native advertising as a powerful marketing strategy.

Brands continue to invest in native advertising due to its ability to deliver targeted and relevant content to specific audiences. By leveraging native ads, companies can enhance credibility, increase brand reach, and successfully engage consumers in a non-intrusive manner.

Next, we will delve into the ROI and effectiveness of native advertising, providing valuable data and case studies that demonstrate its impact on businesses.

Native Advertising Growth and Spending

The native advertising industry has witnessed a steady growth trajectory in recent years. According to industry research, native ad spending is expected to reach $X billion by 2022, reflecting the sustained confidence and interest in this advertising format.

In 2016, native ad spending totaled $X billion, representing a significant increase from previous years. This growth can be attributed to the effectiveness of native advertising in generating engagement, increasing brand awareness, and driving conversions.

The graph below illustrates the growth in native advertising spending from 2012 to 2016:

The graph showcases a consistent upward trend in native ad spending, emphasizing its popularity and effectiveness among marketers.

The increased investment in native ad campaigns can be attributed to the high performance and return on investment (ROI) they offer. Brands are realizing the potential of native advertising to reach and engage target audiences in a more personalized and organic manner.

Now that we have explored the growth and spending trends of native advertising, let’s dive into the ROI and effectiveness of native ads.

Native Advertising ROI and Effectiveness

Measuring the return on investment (ROI) and effectiveness of native advertising is crucial for brands. To evaluate the success of native ad campaigns, several performance metrics can be used, including click-through rates, engagement rates, and conversion rates.

Case studies and data from 2016 provide valuable insights into the ROI and effectiveness of native advertising. Let’s take a closer look:

Click-through Rates

Click-through rates (CTRs) measure the percentage of users who click on a native ad after seeing it. Higher CTRs indicate strong interest and engagement from the audience. In 2016, the average CTR for native ads was 0.33%, significantly outperforming traditional display ads with an average CTR of 0.15%. This indicates that native ads are more compelling and enticing for users, resulting in higher click-through rates.

Engagement Rates

Engagement rates measure how users interact with native ads beyond just clicking on them. This includes actions like watching a video, sharing the content, or leaving a comment. Native ads tend to generate higher engagement rates compared to traditional ads due to their non-intrusive nature and seamless integration into the user experience. In 2016, the average engagement rate for native ads was 0.84%, proving their effectiveness in capturing the attention and interest of users.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates measure the percentage of users who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form, after clicking on a native ad. Native ads have been shown to have higher conversion rates compared to other forms of digital advertising. A study from 2016 found that native ads outperformed banner ads by 53% in terms of conversion rates, indicating their ability to drive meaningful results for brands.

By analyzing these performance metrics, brands can gauge the effectiveness of their native ad campaigns and optimize their strategies for better results. It’s important to track these metrics regularly and make data-driven decisions to maximize the ROI of native advertising efforts.

Metric Average Rate
Click-through Rate (CTR) 0.33%
Engagement Rate 0.84%
Conversion Rate Outperformed banner ads by 53%

Best Practices for Native Advertising in 2016

Creating effective native ads requires following best practices to ensure seamless integration, targeted content, and enhanced credibility. By adhering to these practices, advertisers can deliver valuable and informative content that builds trust with viewers.

Seamless Integration

Seamless integration is crucial for native advertising to preserve the user experience and avoid disrupting the organic content. When creating native ads, make sure they blend seamlessly with the platform they appear on. This includes matching the style and format of the surrounding content, such as using similar fonts, colors, and imagery. By seamlessly integrating native ads, you increase the chances of capturing users’ attention and engagement.

Targeted Content

Targeted content is essential for successful native advertising campaigns. To maximize the impact of your ads, tailor the content specifically to your target audience. Conduct thorough research to understand their preferences, demographics, and interests. By creating content that resonates with your audience, you can increase engagement and drive conversions.

Enhancing Credibility

Credibility is a critical factor in native advertising. To enhance credibility, make sure your ads are placed within trusted publishers and platforms. This association with reputable sources can lend authenticity and credibility to your brand. Additionally, ensure that your ads provide accurate and valuable information to viewers. By delivering high-quality content, you establish yourself as a trusted authority and build credibility with your audience.

Furthermore, transparency is key in native advertising. Clearly label your ads as “sponsored” or “advertising” to maintain transparency and avoid misleading your audience. This transparency fosters trust and strengthens the credibility of your brand.

By implementing these best practices, you can create native ads that seamlessly integrate with the platform, deliver targeted content, and enhance your credibility. In doing so, you can maximize the effectiveness of your native advertising campaigns and achieve your marketing goals.

How to Identify Native Advertising

Identifying native advertising can sometimes be challenging, as it is designed to blend in with the organic content. However, there are usually subtle indicators that can help distinguish native ads from regular content. These indicators may include tags such as “sponsored,” “promoted,” or “ad,” as well as specific design elements or placement within the website or platform.

When browsing the web or scrolling through social media, keep an eye out for these telltale signs that you’re encountering native advertising:

  • Look for phrases like “Sponsored,” “Promoted,” or “Ad” near or within the content. These labels are often placed discreetly, but they provide an indication that the content is sponsored and not purely organic.
  • Pay attention to the design elements of the content. Native ads often mimic the style and format of the surrounding content, but they may have slight differences in font, color, or layout.
  • Consider the placement of the content. Native ads are commonly found within article feeds, social media timelines, or in the middle of blog posts. They are strategically positioned to appear as part of the user experience.

Pro Tip: If you’re still unsure whether a piece of content is native advertising or not, a quick search engine query can help reveal any previous discussions or disclosures about the sponsored nature of the content.

By recognizing these subtle cues, you can better navigate the digital landscape and distinguish between native advertising and genuine organic content.

Key Indicators of Native Advertising

Indicator Description
“Sponsored,” “Promoted,” or “Ad” label Tags indicating that the content is sponsored.
Design elements Subtle differences in font, color, or layout compared to organic content.
Placement Positioned within article feeds, social media timelines, or in the middle of blog posts.


Native advertising has proven to be a highly effective marketing strategy, offering brands the opportunity to engage with audiences in a non-intrusive manner. The examples, statistics, and insights from 2016 have underscored the importance of creating compelling and targeted native ad campaigns.

By understanding the numerous benefits, various types, and best practices of native advertising, brands can leverage this strategy to enhance their marketing efforts and drive success in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Native ads seamlessly blend sponsored content with organic content, allowing brands to establish credibility and tap into established audiences. The data from 2016 reveals that native advertising offers substantial ROI and proven effectiveness in boosting brand awareness, driving sales, and increasing purchase intent.

To maximize the impact of native advertising, brands should focus on creating seamlessly integrated ads that are relevant, valuable, and informative to the target audience. By prioritizing user experience and delivering high-quality content, brands can build trust, enhance credibility, and achieve their marketing goals through native advertising.


What is native advertising?

Native advertising is a form of advertising that seamlessly blends sponsored content with organic content to appear less intrusive and more appealing to viewers.

What are the benefits of native advertising?

Native advertising enhances brand credibility, allows brands to tap into established audiences, and increases purchase intent.

What are the types of native ads?

The types of native ads include content recommendation widgets, promoted listings, in-feed units, custom plugs, and newsletter advertising.

Can you provide some native advertising examples from 2016?

Yes, some notable examples include Mercedes partnering with The Washington Post, Purina collaborating with Buzzfeed, and DHL teaming up with National Geographic.

What are some native advertising statistics and industry insights?

Native advertising saw significant growth in 2016, with brands spending billions on native ads.

How can you measure the ROI and effectiveness of native advertising?

Performance metrics such as click-through rates, engagement rates, and conversion rates can be used to evaluate the success of native ad campaigns.

What are the best practices for native advertising in 2016?

Best practices include seamless integration with the platform, targeting relevant content, and delivering valuable and informative content.

How can you identify native advertising?

Native ads can be identified through tags such as “sponsored,” “promoted,” or “ad,” as well as specific design elements or placement within the website or platform.

What is the significance of native advertising in marketing?

Native advertising allows brands to effectively engage with audiences in a non-intrusive manner, enhancing their marketing efforts in the digital landscape.