Woman scrolling through content online on her tablet showing native advertising

Native Advertising vs. Display Advertising

As marketers (especially digital marketers) there is a constant battle being waged over how to effectively win the favor of their targeted audience. Just as in any medium for advertising, it seems that marketers are walking a tightrope, balancing enough face value to be recognized but not enough to annoy and turn off those solicited. Two popular ways of advertising online are display and native. When comparing the two methods and their general effect on audience members, there are some points to consider.

What is A Native Ad, What is a Display Ad?

Many of you reading this post may not even understand the difference between a native ad and a display ad. While both advertisements are digital and found on your web page, the placement of each is what varies. A display advertisement is what you are probably used to seeing. When scrolling through facebook or a blog of some sort, you probably can spot quite easily the ads on the sides of the webpage surrounding the content. These are considered display or banner advertisements. Comparatively, native ads (which are becoming increasingly popular,) are advertisements that are found within the content feed.    

            An example of banner advertising                         An example of a native advertisement on mobile

The Consumer Experience

Since it’s becoming more apparent to digital marketers that banner ads are going the way of the dodo, ads have strategically been placed within online content where viewers are looking anyway. This is to increase the likelihood of reaching consumers even without getting an interactive click. Studies have confirmed that consumers look at native ads 52% more often than banner ads which has created a lot more attention for the native ad platform in marketing.

Brand Lift

Because the nature of native advertising is to blend in with actual content, it makes sense that more consumers would take the time to view these targeted ads if the content pertains to their lifestyle. For instance, Consumer A is really into a particular sport. They follow or subscribe to team or athlete social media pages and some of their favorite brands that also promote this athletic lifestyle. By monitoring Consumer A’s behavior online with who and what they pay attention to, placing the native ad for a related product (e.g. sports equipment, nutritional supplements, performance clothing/wearables) seems much more natural to interact with, even if it’s not a purchase right away.

Let’s say consumer A didn’t buy anything from the native ad, but they did “Like” it on social media or better yet, they shared it with their network. This both promotes the ad to (assumingly) other targeted audience individuals, and keeps the brand fresh in Consumer A’s mind if they continue to subscribe to their social content. Viewing through a social media filter makes the brand much more relatable and appealing to the consumer. Therefore native advertising both increases brand affinity, and funnels consumers through the buyer’s journey to eventually making a sale with their audience.

Consider This:

  • Native ads came in 9% higher lift for brand affinity and 18% higher purchase intent compared to traditional digital banner ads.  
  • When comparing the likelihood of social sharing of ads, 32% of people surveyed said they would be likely to share the native ad compared to 19% sharing the banner ad.
  • 71% of existing customers of brands said they personally identify with the brand after viewing their native ad compared to 50% of those identifying with the banner ad after purchase.

The Future of Banner Ads

So with all the above hype for native advertising, the question remains: are display ads dead? Not necessarily. Are they as effective? It all depends on your numbers. Analytics are so important to advertising campaigns because they are able to show the amount of interactions and impressions an ad gets. You may find that with paid display advertising your click through rate (CTR) is high, but may be decreasing each time you pay for a banner ad campaign. It’s important to realize that at some point paying for paid banner ads may not worth their cost with a poor return on investment.

One positive thing to keep in mind about banner ads though is that they work in the same way that billboards do. This counts as a number of “impressions” the advertisement has on a given audience (how many eyes it’s reached). There is no “true” way to measure the impact of a billboard or really know how many people driving by actually looked at it well enough to register what it is for, and the same goes for a display ad on a content page.

People will always adapt to avoiding or ignoring a medium of advertisements when they become mundane. That’s why the role of marketing and advertising is constantly changing and evolving with the consumer population’s interests. It also explains why native advertising is proving to be much more effective and relatable to an online audience.