They’re “sponsored posts,” “featured content,” or highlighted with the phrase, “from our advertisers.” Odds are, you’ve seen these advertisements, but you might not have known you were looking at an ad. They’re Google Adsense native ads, and they fit into a website’s content so well users sometimes can’t tell the difference. What do these clever ads mean for your online experience? And what does it mean for your business?
Google Adsense Native Ads: What You Need To Know
What Are Native Ads?
Have you ever clicked on an interesting headline that sent you to another website entirely? You probably clicked on a native ad. Unlike traditional display ads like banner ads, which use an advertiser’s colors and branding, native ads are like chameleons; they appear using the website’s fonts, color, size and other design elements automatically, so they look just like any other content on the site. The above screenshot from the New York Times shows how well native ads can fit in.
Google Adsense is one of many native ad platforms. Google’s native ads come in three forms: in-feed, in-article, and matched content. As the names imply, these ads appear within a selection of articles, between paragraphs in an article itself, or alongside similar content.
Who Makes Native Ads?
Google Adsense Native Ads is Google’s native ad management platform. Yahoo and Bing have their own versions, in addition to dozens of other native ad networks like Taboola and Outbrain. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms also sell and place native ads. Native ads are purchased by businesses and advertisers, placed by native ad platforms, and shown on participating websites.
How Can I Tell If It’s An Ad?
It’s ultimately up to webmasters to decide where to allow native ads on their site, and how to signal to users that these are ads, not original content. Some sites clearly differentiate native ads, others don’t. In the above screenshot from a local publication, would you have known the circled spots were native ads, not actual articles? Sometimes, the only way to know for sure is to scroll over the link and check the domain in the lower left of your screen; if the link leads to a new domain, it’s an ad.
Native ads’ discreet appearance can be a problem as well as a benefit. Some users feel misled by native ads and consider them a way to disguise product placements. Ad networks and publishers claim native ads provide a way to monetize sites without interrupting the user experience.
Who Uses Native Ads?
Advertisers buy native ads through networks on a per click basis. When a site visitor clicks a native ad, the site owner and network each gets a share of the payment. This makes native ads an attractive option for websites that specialize in content without selling products, such as online magazines, newspapers, how-to sites, recipe sites, and others.
If you want to display Google Adsense native ads on your site, you can make an Adsense account and decide where and how to display native ads. If you want to use native ads to advertise your own products, you can use Google Adwords to make a “responsive” ad. Many other native ad networks also sell native ad space using their own platforms and formats.
Do Native Ads Get More Clicks?
A study of over 18 billion native ads showed that these ads are four times more likely than traditional display ads to get clicks. These ads are especially effective via mobile marketing; native ads on mobile devices get twice as many clicks as native ads on desktops. Experts predict 63% of mobile display ads will be native by 2020, amounting to $53 billion in ad revenue.
Should I Use Native Ads?
If you sell a product or service, native ads can be an effective part of your marketing strategy. Since native ads are designed to fit seamlessly into a host site and user experience, they are also targeted towards specific users. An automatic, almost instantaneous bidding process also keeps prices low. While there are many native ad networks, Google Adwords provides instructions, assistance, and bids that make it easy to get started with native ads.
If you host a large content library and get thousands of daily visitors, displaying Google Adsense native ads can be a great way to monetize your site. However, if your site is designed to sell your own products or services, hosting ads may introduce unnecessary competition and distractions.
Do you prefer ads that blend into your content without interruption? Or is this a misleading tactic? As a business, would you buy native ads? Would you display them? Answers to these questions will change the way that businesses utilize native ads as they become more popular, and shape the way users interact with them.