What is Native Advertising?

Despite all the hype, native advertising remains a fuzzy concept for most marketers. According to  copybloggers 2014 status report:

  • 49 percent of respondents don’t know what native advertising is
  • 24 percent are hardly familiar with it
  • Another 24 percent are somewhat familiar
  • Only 3 percent are very knowledgeable

Yet, according to a recent eMarketer report, spending on native ads on social sites alone is expected to increase from $3.1 billion to $5 billion by 2017. So perhaps its time we all cozied up and got good and acquainted with native ads. These days, native advertising is everywhere – and it’s getting harder and harder to spot. Here is a basic primer to help you get started.

What is Native Advertising?

Simply put, native advertising is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, you name it – if a content producer can make it, corporations can buy it and publishing platforms can promote it.

Now, you might be thinking, “How does a native advertisement differ from an advertorial?” Well, in order to be considered a true native advertisement, the content should align with the publication or site’s established editorial style and tone, and must also provide the kind of information that the publication’s audience typically expects.

These qualities are what make native advertisements difficult to spot, as they often blend in with the “organic” content extremely well. This is made even more challenging by the fact that there are no defined rules or guidelines on how publishers must label native ads, and standards of transparency vary widely from one publication to another.

Here are some terrific examples that should help shape our understanding of native, going forward.

4 Great Native Advertising Examples

One of the funniest satirical sites on the web, The Onion also has a strong grasp on native advertising, as exemplified by this particularly well-known example. This is what The Onion did for H&R Block. I mean, it’s pretty funny right!


When this content was published in 2012, it was framed by several traditional vertical and horizontal banner ads for H&R Block. Even if visitors didn’t click on these banners (which they’re unlikely to, as you’re 475 times more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad, according to Solve Media), the result was significantly increased brand awareness.

Another great native example is when Netflix sponsored a paid post on The New York Times, tying the piece to its fictional, women-in-prison series Orange is the New Black. The advertisement, which dives into the topic of women in prison, is an example of how a native ad can look and feel like an organic piece of the publisher’s site. This content matched the ethos of the publisher’s regular content and tied seamlessly to the themes of the brand.


Perhaps most importantly, native ads adon’t have to rub audiences the wrong way. Forbes teams with brands such as Gap International to produce business pieces that read as if they’re part of any other section of the site. When writing about successful 21st-century companies in a sponsored post, for example, Gap International’s founder and CEO never once mentioned her own corporation (other than to define her title in the byline, and to give a link to a longer whitepaper). The focus of the piece is on the business at hand, which suggests for readers that Forbes‘ BrandVoice section isn’t eroding the outlet’s journalistic integrity.

Lastly, as we all know, successful content doesn’t have to be all business. BuzzFeed and Game of Thrones thought outside-the-box with a smart quiz that looks and works just like the publisher’s popular interactive features, which answers the question: How would you die on Game of Thrones?


Let Project Eve’s editorial team showcase your brand and reach 20 million women with our original, engaging native content and custom contests with social media amplification. We have worked over 30 nationally recognized partners including: Dove, Nestle, Wellness, Hiscox, PopSecret, Suntrust, Kotex P&G, Luna Bars, Lara Bars, Sketchers.

Contact Meridith Dennes at [email protected] for a media kit and to learn more.




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