WTF Is Native Advertising?

Ever wondered how Native Advertising works, and why there is such a buzz around it? Well, I sat down with Jon Malach from Native Ads (the company) to get a 101 on what Native Advertising is, and how it can be used for companies big and small.

What is Native Advertising?

It’s another term for content marketing essentially, where the “ads” fit-in with the environment they are served within. If all the content on the site or in the app is only text with no images, the native ads on that site or app would also be just text only. If all the content on the site or app is presented in previews with 400×400 pixel images, and size 18 Oswald font headlines that are max 90 characters long, then the native ads would also be presented with 400×400 pixel images and identically styled font for their headlines.

Native Ads are not designed to trick the user. There has been a lot of controversy over this, and with the FTC stepping in with recommended guidelines for calling out the ads with special labels – the publishers are labeling the native ads on their sites to ensure they minimize cases of someone reading an ad while thinking it was true editorial.

What are the 3 benefits for Native advertising?

You will see a higher engagement rate with a static native ad or a video native ad than you will with any other format of digital advertising. Period.

    1. Higher CTRS
    2. Higher Brand Lift and Brand Recall
    3. Higher purchase intent
    4. People actually share native ads socially, ever see them share a banner ad?

Native advertising fosters a better form of communication with both potential and current customers. You can’t create a native ad without content. You can’t create the content without something educational or entertaining to say. So when you decide to start a native ad campaign, you are essentially deciding to start communicating with valuable content to your audience. A banner ad or search ad never required that commitment, and the benefits of focusing on content creation for any company are easy to spot.

Native Ads give you the opportunity to support more sophisticated marketing funnels, with more opportunities to measure funnel performance. You learn earlier in the game where you are winning or losing, why, and who with.

Bonus: Marketers tend to have set customer profiles they believe their product or service is limited to due to past sales or marketing stats. Times change, and so do our target profiles, however if we never try targeting broader groups – we’ll never discover those net new profiles that could be our best customers. Native supports the ability to target users of course, but you can also go broader and focus on targeting content types instead of users – which tends to result in very interesting data to review after even only 1000 clicks.

Can Native advertising be used for smaller companies?

Yes, we have just under 8,000 advertisers, 90% of them have budgets under $5,000, 70% of them have budgets under $2,000. It’s very long-tail friendly for both publishers and advertisers.

Where do you see native advertising in 2020?

Absolutely everywhere. Consumers do not appreciate traditional advertising anymore, and in the future, they will likely not permit it. They will however permit sponsored snippets of “useful content” specific to their needs that day. Augmented reality will be a huge arena for these snippets to live within.

Can you give an example of a well executed native ad campaign?

Jon Malach doing a Native Advertising speech at CIMC 2017. (Kidding)

Tropicana just did a great job with NYTimes:

I personally don’t give a shit about orange juice, it’s high in sugar and I don’t drink screwdrivers, but this damn ad makes me want to go buy a ton of it now and discover my citrus palette lol.

For a company that hasn’t yet tried Native advertising, where should they start?

Start on a smaller CPC campaign, targeting mobile users (clicks cost less on mobile than desktop). The style of native ad here is called “content recommendation”, and it’s not the premium approach, but it will tell you which of your creatives work the best, and how long users spend reading each variation of your advertorial landing page(s). From there you will have 2 things in hand:

  1. An understanding of what creatives work the best (image+headline combos), along with an understanding of what content drives the desired post-click actions you wish users to take. You can then take this information to try a CPM Native Advertising campaign (more premium placements and more targeting options to employ). You don’t want to buy on CPM prior to testing creatives however, hence the recommendation to start on mobile CPC.
  2. The other thing you gain from this is a nice batch of net-new users you have not seen in your funnel before that you can pixel for Facebook/IG retargeting. Convert new people! (isn’t that what marketing is about?)

Links and shout outs:

  •  (anyone who wants to give it a shot, we got the easiest platform in the industry to get started with, and it accesses every other platform out there – the all in one hub basically!)
  • If anyone wants to connect socially with me:


Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.

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