Are You Native to Native Advertising?

‘Native advertising’ is shaping up to be the next buzzword in 2015, but are you native to native advertising?

What is native advertising?

Native advertising has been a source of controversy over the past couple of years. Some marketers think it’s cheeky, some think it’s deceptive, others think it’s pure genius. But what is it? Native marketing, according to Wikipedia:

is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears.

The idea is that the advert seamlessly slots into the piece of content (whatever it may be) without being obvious or taking away from the user’s overall experience or journey. In fact, native advertising should realistically add to the user’s experience.

Native advertising has since been further categorised into two different levels, closed and open.

Closed native advertising

When we talk about closed native advertising we’re talking about brands and companies creating profiles on existing platforms, the most obvious being Facebook and Twitter. Instagram have recently been experimenting with in-app advertising, and while this is not personalised to the user’s activity just yet, we see it being a very likely scenario in the next 6 months. We imagine they’ll use a similar sort of algorithm to Facebook and Twitter to identify what is relevant to whom.

On Facebook, native advertising presents itself in the form of sponsored posts or boosted posts. The content is tailored to your profile: your friends, likes, posts, photos, shared items. All this information, along with your demographic, means advertisers can target content to you with ease, and in a natural manner.

sponsored facebook post

Twitter acts in a very similar way: promoted tweets match the user’s activity and show tweets that they’ll likely already be interacting with. For example, in my case, I mention beer in my profile description, I tweet about beer a lot, I follow a bunch of beery-type people. What type of promoted tweets do you think I’m presented with? You got it! Beery promoted tweets, not rocket science really.

promoted tweet

Open native advertising

This basically means that the promoted content isn’t hidden behind a profile or platform. The content can be openly distributed outwith the framework of the likes of a social network. Some people would suggest that ‘guest blogging’ and ‘guest articles’ might be considered native advertising. We’d argue that if the guest blog/article doesn’t seamlessly slot into a user’s existing experience then it’s not doing the job of native advertising, so often guest blogs just don’t hit this particular mark.


The easiest way to get involved with open-ended native advertising is to use platforms such as Outbrain which act as the middle man for distributing content out to relevant third parties. You give them the content and they decide the most natural third parties to whom to distribute your content. It works on a cost-per-click basis, much like pay-per-click (AdWords). You can also set daily budgets, start/end days and optimise the ‘ads’ in a similar way.

Why do it?

Simply put, why not?

If you’re taking the time to produce content why not try to get the most exposure from it, whether that’s organic exposure or otherwise.

Native advertising might be a buzzword in 2015 but in the next couple of years it will be so seamlessly (yeah, I like this word today) integrated into the overall marketing mix that it will become second nature and won’t be called anything, it’ll just be done. We all know how much everyone likes to put labels on things. I found this really good quote from Marketing Land when searching for ‘why do native advertising?’:

Native advertising is simply the digital advertising industry’s adolescent growth phase as it becomes more comfortable in its own skin. Like in many youngsters, this growth spurt has come on quickly — with native rocketing onto the scene in 2013 like it was shot out of a cannon.

Native advertising is opening a new door between the advertiser and advertisee (I made up a word, get over it), it’s the progression of personalisated content really and we all know how important personalisation is going to be in the future (and right now even!).

2 examples of native advertising I kinda hate to like


Buzzfeed promoted post

BuzzFeed’s attempt at native advertising is simple, but effective. I’m going on holiday to Canada in the summer and so have been doing various Canada-based searches and looking at Canada-based content on BuzzFeed. Enter Tourism Canada with their highly relevant Canada-based promoted content. Easy peasy.

The likes of Mashable and Funny or Die are promoting sponsored content in a similar way to BuzzFeed.


We know it’s promoted content, it’s very clear about that with it’s ‘sponsor content’ in the header of the page, and yet it doesn’t feel like it’s advertising something to me. I find the content interesting, interactive and generally very readable.

netflix sponsored content


What are your thoughts on native advertising? Do you think it’s just another masked version of ‘guest blogging’ or are you on board with the term?

What is Attacat’s stance on native advertising? We like it! If companies are going to stop feeding me obnoxiously irrelevant ads and start giving me timely, relevant, personalised content that I might actually have some use for, I say go ahead, try me! What’s not to like?

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One thought on “Are You Native to Native Advertising?”

  1. Jignesh Chauhan says:

    I believe that Native advertising is good. It needs to be balanced and one should not over do. Digital advertising company / platforms should balances this out. Native Ads are less intrusive and offensive as a consumer. We need to also understanding that advertising is important, it is one of the biggest reason to keep the WWW free.

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