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Native Advertising 101: 7 Things You Need to Know about Native Ads

Tanvi Kapoor
Director - Product Marketing
5 min read
Posted on May 15, 2014

“Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants, so long as it is black” - Henry Ford.

In 1908, Ford created a revolution in the automotive industry with the color black. To some extent banners did the same for the digital advertising industry (and by extension mobile advertising) in the early 2000s. But as the target audience becomes more tech savvy and the competition in the digital space burgeons, both users and developers have begun to ask for more - More options, more innovation and more bang for the buck. Native advertising is being hailed as the latest black of the mobile advertising industry and everyone who is anyone is putting out the word on their capabilities.

With so much noise around this offering, it is but normal for there to be several myths, misunderstandings and confusion around the real capabilities. This post digs into the truth about this latest opportunity and presents some insights about some of the common questions that might be plaguing your mind.

1) How flexible are native ads?

Native ads were born out of a need to present ads in a seamless form - blend the advertisement into the content to create an non-intrusive experience for the user. So what if your mobile property has only star shaped objects? Can an advertisement be formatted to look that way? Probably. But the question you need to ask is - will such an ad even be meaningful enough for your user, to generate that elusive click and conversion.

Native ads are generally implemented by breaking down the individual advertiser assets and providing them to the publisher in his CMS. Maintaining the balance between a blended ad experience and ensuring that the ad is still noticeable and informative is the main parameter that decides how flexible the native ad unit can be.

The InMobi Native Ads Platform feeds the individual ad assets to your CMS - icon, title, description, images (in any size you need) - making the ad layout as flexible as your app design.

2) Is demand really liquid? Will I get scale?

One of the biggest deterrents to putting trust in a new ad format is the lack of demand. And with something as customized as a native ad layout where every developer will have his own requirements and constraints, is the demand really scalable?

The answer depends on the capabilities of the platform powering the native ad solution. Asking each advertiser to supply the individual assets for every publisher (as per their unique requirements) is of course not a scalable solution.

The InMobi Native Ads Platform acquires these individual advertiser assets automatically as well as allows advertisers to edit them if they feel the need. This ensures instant scale as well as caters to the quality requirements that different teams may have.

3) What is the effort involved in building my native ad unit?

Up until recently, native ads were implemented only by publishers with big teams, on a case by case basis with special effort required for every advertiser that they integrated with. Clearly, this wasn’t a scalable model. The need of the hour was customization in a standardized manner, which allowed you to put in (maybe) a little extra effort and see instant results.

For all those who believe that building a native ad unit is too tedious, we have enough examples of developers who have created their own custom JSON (2 minutes), integrated with the InMobi SDK (5 lines), tested and gone live in less than 1 day. How is that for speed?

4) Do native ads perform better than banner ads?

The most frequently asked question for anything new is the revenue upside - after all, the effort has to justify the result. Native ads are not new in the industry and have already been popular on desktop for quite some time. Can you think of the most common native ad that you see, daily?

While the desktop world boasted of 1-2% CTR on native ads, mobile users seem to be more welcoming of this new ad experience. CTRs on native ads are 8X higher than traditional formats on the InMobi Network and advertisers are seeing 6X higher conversions.

5) Where should I integrate the native ad unit?

All good things in life come with a caveat and native ads are no different. Great performance requires great placement. It would be unfair to bury the native ad behind several scrolls and taps and then expect higher eCPMs. Just like banners or interstitials, it is important to ensure that the native ad unit should be on the most used screens of your mobile property, within the viewable area of the user.

6) Do I need an advertorial team to create messaging for every Native Ad?

Traditionally, native ads were adopted and promoted by publications and brands. When the scheme of things was limited to 1:1 relationships between the publisher and advertiser, it was probably feasible to hire a separate “advertorial” team to craft unique messaging for every such relationship.

But with so many app categories and properties now finding face time with the user, no one has the luxury to craft different messaging for every advertiser, nor would it be a scalable model. Advertisers who leverage the reach and targeting capabilities of ad networks like InMobi create a common messaging for all publishers and use it to reach out to their intended audience.

7) Will my users accept native ads or is it considered deceptive?

Not if you clearly mark every native ad unit as an “Ad” or “Sponsored” content. Since the launch of Android and the proliferation of mobile usage amongst the masses, mobile users have come to accept ads in their apps as a small price for free usage. As long as the ad is clearly marked and does not try to deceive the user into clicking by posing as other content, you are good to go.

While ad networks do not mandate the use of visible tags like “Ad” and “Sponsored” legally, app stores have started ousting apps which do not clearly demarcate an ad. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

About the Author

Tanvi has been in the telecom industry for the last 6 years and is successfully using her understanding of the mobile user in the exciting mobile advertising ecosystem. In her latest role, she is responsible for dissecting the inspirations behind the user behavior on the mobile and identifying the best monetization strategies for the evolving mobile ecosystem.

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