What is native advertising? (Benefits, types and examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Paid content that appears to consumers as a traditional website, widget or social media post is native advertising. Thanks to their design, native ads can generate more clicks from consumers because they look like a natural part of a website. Learning about sponsored content can improve your digital marketing skills and help you design more effective ads for your employer or clients. In this article, we answer 'What is native advertising?', discuss ways to use it and share examples of native ads.

What is native advertising?

Learning, 'What is native advertising?' is helpful if you want to improve your understanding of digital marketing techniques. Native advertising is a type of digital marketing that aims to reach new consumers by using ads that mimic the look and function of standard entertainment, educational or informative content. It's also known as sponsored content.

For example, native ads on social media may mirror the appearance of regular posts your friends or pages you follow might share. The brand also can make them custom, to make sure ads align with the audience's interests and expectations. Although some people are reluctant when it comes to the use of native ads, this form of marketing can be highly effective when you learn to do it right and follow advertising ethics when creating promotional campaigns.

Related: 8 different types of advertising (digital and traditional)

Benefits of native advertising

When you learn to do it right, native ads can be higher effective tools for promoting causes, products and services. Here are some benefits of using sponsored content in marketing campaigns:

Makes consumer experiences more enjoyable

Because they mirror the feel and look of normal content, customers might deem native ads more enjoyable. To create sponsored content that helps you sell, you can make sure posts, videos or articles you want to publish as a part of your campaigns have additional informational or educational value to them. For example, if you want to use native ads to promote a new kitchen gadget, you can explain to customers how to use it and share examples of dishes they can cook with it.

Related: Types of marketing campaign: definition and benefits

Allows companies to blend in

Using native advertising allows you to create ads that blend on social media or in search engines. In some instances, consumers may not even realise they're interacting with branded content. This increases the likelihood they might click on the link you provide.

Increases brand awareness

Sponsored content can be an effective tool for building brand awareness. If improving brand recognition is your goal, you can design native ads without call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Instead, focus on providing valuable product information and back it up with data or recommendations from influencers and notable figures in the industry. This way, you can help consumers warm up to the idea of buying the product you're promoting.

Related: List of various types of brands (plus definitions)

Generates good CTR results

Native ads often receive a higher click-through rate (CTR) than many other types of digital marketing. The advantage of native ads is especially striking when you're comparing them to traditional display ads. This often happens because native ads recognise the importance of building consumer trust before promoting goods to them.

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Types of sponsored content

Native ads can be effective tools for promoting products or services in almost any category or industry. To determine how you want to create your ads, you can review the main types of sponsored content, which are:

Branded content

Also known as publisher partnerships, branded content allows the publisher to create a custom piece of content on behalf of a brand. That content mimics the standard tone of voice that the publisher normally presents, which helps meet the audience's expectations. Many publishers have dedicated internal teams that specialise in creating branded content for businesses or organisations. Once they create a piece and the brand approves of it, the publisher then distributes that content across their usual communication channels. For example, they can share it on social media and in their weekly newsletter.

Related: What is a content marketing role? (Plus tasks and careers)

In-feed native distribution

In-feed native distribution, or simply native display, usually concentrates on running editorial or video content as ads across a publisher's online network. It facilitates sharing a preview of the content and gives consumers a chance to watch, read or experience the full piece after clicking a link. Although consumers tend to easily recognise it as paid content, it allows you to utilise similar assets as the website on which you want to publish your ads.

Related: A guide to digital marketing vs social media marketing

Content recommendation

Content recommendations also referred to as content discovery, are ads that take consumers through a third-party website. Thanks to how natural and engaging they are, they can easily encourage customers to read through the entire article or page and continue interacting with the same product or concept by clicking a link at the end of the piece. Content recommendations often require less financial investments while delivering the same results as other types of ads, which makes them highly cost-efficient.

Ways to use sponsored content

There are different ways in which marketers use sponsored content. Some of the common methods include:

As promoted listings

Promoted listings are common examples of native ads in e-commerce and similar industries. Using this type of ad requires you to pay a fee for promoting your products at the top of a publisher's page. It's an effective way to attract consumer attention, especially if you're placing ads on websites which are relevant to the goods you're offering.

Related: 6 careers in content marketing (with job info and salary)

As paid search ads

Purchasing paid search ads allow you to promote products at the top of search engine results. Also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, paid search only requires brands to pay for the clicks that their ads earn. This makes this form of advertising highly affordable even for smaller businesses. To make sure it works for you, it's helpful to make sure the ad earns more sales than ads.

Related: What is PPC management? Everything you need to know

As in-feed ads

Choosing in-feed ads is a subtle way of advertising. Ads of this type appear in a website's primary feed with a structure that looks like any other post. This allows you to create sponsored content that's never disruptive to potential buyers and demonstrates you want to use the ads to deliver engaging content to them.

As custom ads

Custom ads appear in more unique parts of the Internet. Marketers choose this way of displaying native ads to make sure what they promote aligns with customers' interests. For example, a film festival may choose to display its ads on a video streaming platform.

Examples of native ads

To better understand how native ads work, it's helpful to review some real-life examples of this form of advertising. Here's where you can encounter ads of this type:

Streaming platforms

Streaming platforms collect your listening history to make better content recommendations. They often share this information with advertisers, which want to learn about your music taste to match you with the right ad content. Here's how it works:

Example: Mike is a music aficionado who only listens to electronic music, ignoring genres like rock or classical. A streaming platform that he uses to create and listen to playlists recently decided to partner with a local music festival. The festival features five main stages, where each stage represents a specific genre of music.

The streaming platform then uses Mike's listening data to decide that he's likely to have an interest in the stage where electronica artists are performing. On the top of the playlist that Mike listens to daily, they display a custom ad promoting the festival. After clicking the ad, he visits a website that lists all electronic artists and the schedule for their stages.


Native ads are also common on platforms that use hashtags to tag specific posts or content. Using hashtags for promotion can help you engage users and encourage them to share photos, videos or comments about a brand. Here's how it works:

Example: Green Dress Red Dress Ltd. is a sustainable clothing company that promotes zero-waste production and sales in the fashion industry. The brand uses its social media channels to promote its mission using the hashtag #GoGreenGoRed. It encourages users to use the hashtag to share photos of their sustainable outfits and gives them a chance to win a surprise package with the brand's products.

The brand's main goal for the campaign is to raise brand awareness and recognition. Thanks to presenting it as a contest, users perceive it as a less invasive form of advertising. They're also more likely to participate because they know there's something they can potentially gain from it.

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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