Native Ads In A Digital Market

Exploring the Landscape for Advertisers, Publications and Readers

Digital native advertising is a growing industry that not only provides much-needed revenue for publications, but also changes the way advertisers engage with their audience. Readers know “advertising” as disruptive boxes that run alongside and on top of their favorite content, but native ads take a different shape. In this infographic, we’ll explain the difference between native and traditional digital advertising and explore the impact of native ads on advertisers, publications and readers.

Digital Differences: Traditional vs. Native


Traditional advertising appears in designated spots partitioned off from editorial content, like the banner ads that run in boxes along the top or right edge of an article. They often contain obvious product information and branding.


Native advertising is seamlessly integrated into digital real estate that is normally reserved for editorial content. Advertisers typically create these to provide value to readers, and they are less heavily branded.

There are three parties that interact with native ads, and each benefits in different ways.

  1. Advertisers – Benefit: A new, targeted way to reach consumers.
  2. Publications – Benefit: A profitable way to monetize their storytelling resources.
  3. Readers – Benefit: Less-disruptive ads that provide useful, relevant information.

The Market Is Growing¹

  • World – 30 billion dollars in 2015 & projected to be 59 billion dollars in 2018
  • United States – 11 billion dollars in 2015 & projected to to be 22 billion dollars in 2018

Impact For Publications

Native ads bringing in significant and increasing revenue. For example:

  • The Atlantic earns more than 60% of its digital ad revenue from native ads.²
  • LinkedIn earned 45% of its ad revenue from native ads.³
  • The New York Times sold more than $18 million worth of native ads in 2014.⁴

Why Native?

When compared to traditional banner ads, native ads create:⁵

  • 9% higher brand affinity – positive feelings.
  • 18% higher purchase intent – likelihood of making a purchase.
  • 52% more attention – people look at them more frequently.

Readers engage with native ads more than traditional ads.⁶

Rates at which readers click on and view ads:

  • Native Ads
    • Smartphone: 38%
    • Tablet:33%
    • Desktop: 16%
  • Traditional Ads
    • All platforms: .08%

Why Not Native?

Even with growing market and evidence that native ads work, some advertisers are still slow to adopt native advertising strategies.⁷

  • 55% are not familiar enough with it
  • 32% have budget concerns
  • 27% have transparency concerns
  • 18% have limited reach
  • 18% have a lack of creative resources

Addressing Reader Concerns

A 2015 study showed that:

  • 48% of consumers felt deceived upon realizing a piece of content was sponsored⁸
  • 62% of readers think that new sites lose credibility when they publish native ads.⁹

What Casts Doubt?

  • 46%: Can’t be corroborated with non company sources
  • 17%: Doesn’t address other perspectives or viewpoints
  • 15%: Isn’t clear that it’s coming from a company
  • 12%: Talks down to the reader

Yet readers acknowledge that ads are necessary and that native ads do have value.

The Value Exchange

  • 86% feel that online ads are necessary for publications to be able to provide free content.¹⁰
  • 74% trust content from businesses that aims to educate readers.¹²
  • 60% are more open to online ads that tell a story, versus just selling a product.¹¹

And readers do embrace content from advertisers:

A General Electric sponsored podcast hit #1 in the iTunes store.¹³

A New York Times paid post was among the top 1,000 articles on in 2014.¹⁴

Realizing The Potential

Gone are the days of disruptive sales pitches. Native ads are ushering in a new approach that, when done correctly, follows through on the promise of advertising: an experience that resonates with consumers and expands the storytelling power of brands. It is up to advertisers to keep native content relevant, trustworthy and authoritative in order to establish a lasting connection with her audience.