What is 'Native Advertising'

Native advertising is promotional messaging crafted to blend in with the regular content on a platform. Native advertisements mimic the style or media on a platform to get around the audience's aversion to explicit advertisements. The concept of native advertising predates the Internet. But, it has risen to prominence in the form of sponsored, promoted, partner, and other content titles meant to separate it from the core information presented on the website.

Native advertising may not have an explicit call to action or reference to the company paying for it, but it could aim to raise overall awareness or demand for a product or service. The extent to which native advertising is identified as a paid placement is decided by the editorial policies of the platform.  

BREAKING DOWN 'Native Advertising'

Even though we are becoming more voracious in our consumption of online content, the effectiveness of the banner and boxed ads continues to suffer. The click-through rates are incredibly low and the vastness of the Internet means that the payoff, even using impressions rather than clicks, is questionable for advertisers. The growth of incidents of banner blindness, also known as ad blindness or banner noise, is a problem for those wishing to communicate using online platforms. 

Instead of focusing on getting the audience to click on the boxed ads online content providers are returning to old print media practices. The print media use of advertorials is being repurposed for the digital age. This practice follows the belief that there is no need to worry as much about the box when the whole page is an advertising message.

Three Models of Native Advertising

The American Press Institute (API) classified native advertising into three different models. In the underwriting model, the publisher matches independently created content with the advertisers marketing materials. For example, if a publisher films a video on what it takes to be an ultra-endurance athlete, it may offer sponsorship and pre-roll or ad space to battery companies with complementary marketing messages. In this model, the publisher has full editorial control over the content being created. Similarly, old articles may be recycled and repurposed to fit an advertiser's message.

In the agency model, the publisher provides the advertiser with a team to help hone the message into content that will fit the publisher’s platform. This content primarily serves the brand but must still feel and look like the content around it. In the agency model, the custom content team is usually kept separate from the main editorial team.
In the platform model, the company or brand is free to use the publisher’s platform to put out its message under its own name like other content contributors. In this case, the publisher’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the content is identified as coming from the company.  
Other types of classifications have been proposed to cover how native advertising is displayed. These classifications include promoted listings, recommended widgets, and paid search. However, the application program interface (API) will best classify the relationship between the platform and the client. API defines how the customer's software communicates with the platform's software. Native advertising will continue to spread as ad blindness grows among Internet users and as more companies struggle to get their brand messaging to consumers.
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