Native advertising is the new way of advertising – Advertising has come a long way from splashy print ads, eye-catching billboards and buzzworthy TV commercials. Of course these traditional formats still exist, but they are competing with the massive space that is online advertising. With people around the world consuming on average nearly 500 minutes of media a day, with three hours of that being television and two hours being the Internet, advertising is impossible to escape.

The more advertising that appears, the more immune customers become to it. For this reason, advertisers have innovated new ways to reach audiences. The newest trend in cutting through all the online advertising noise is native advertising. This can be advantageous to companies hoping to communicate with customers in a more organic way. Encountering a native ad as opposed to an intrusive one is a much more pleasant experience for viewers and is often more effective.

If “native advertising” is simply another marketing jargon term to you, this in-depth look at native advertising will help you not only understand the word, but hopefully help you put the practice to use. Examining where native advertising came from and how it converts prospects uncovers the potential of this new trend.

From Banner Ads to Promoted Content

Online advertising is most well-known in the form of banner ads, pop-ups and retargeting sidebars. These possibly obnoxious visuals are as abhorred as the infomercial. It’s the reason 5% of all Internet users have downloaded ad-blocker, 45% of which don’t want to see ads of any kind on any site.

While this is the extreme reaction to online advertising, it’s almost not necessary. With 77% of display ads not even being visible, advertisers are seeking better ways to promote their products and services without slipping through the infinite cracks of the Web. The average click-through rate for all online display ads is 0.06%. That means your customers are more likely to be accepted to Harvard than click on your ad from a site display.

Brand display ad spending is also on a general decline, expected to be only 27% of all online ad spending in 2018. As companies scale back on display advertising, they are finding ways to bridge the gap between customer Internet activity and brand interaction. The growth of content marketing provided an outlet for sharing quality information in a way that reached customers on their terms. Soon, advertisers were looking for ways to disseminate this information to large numbers of customers in a way that transcends the tradition of display ads. Native advertising was born from this need and inevitably exploded in popularity.

Natural Need for More

The official definition of native advertising is “the type of advertising that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.” It comes in many varieties, but the common thread is the integration into a site’s experience so the advertisement doesn’t interrupt flow and is equal with user interaction. Native advertising, above all else, is about delivering value to the customer.

The most common forms of native ads are promoted Tweets, sponsored Facebook stories, paid search results and recommendation widgets. All of these ads are designed to look just like a Tweet, a Facebook post, a search result or a suggested link. So even though it might have a disclaimer that it is indeed paid promotion, native ads are less disruptive than another type of ad experience and users are more likely to comprehend the subject matter without ignoring it. As customers have become conditioned to block out ads, the nature of native advertising still appears on a customer’s radar as they peruse for original content.

In the advertising industry, 70% of agency creatives say user experience is the most important aspect of native advertising. The best native ads inspire readers to keep learning more based on a positive first interaction with a brand. These ads are in some ways enhancing a site’s experience by providing additional content, and are most certainly helping the brands using this strategy.

Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads, have 53% higher purchase intent and generate 82% brand lift. As native ad success grows, more publishers are willing to adopt the practice into their sites. In fact, 34% are already willing to do so. It’s only a matter of time before native advertising is the only online advertising both customers and brands are accustomed to and comfortable with.

Reaping the Benefits

Using native advertising has become a vastly popular practice in the advertising industry. As it becomes more sophisticated, regulated and wide-spread, customers will start to look for the recommendation widgets that lead them to content they never would have found otherwise. They will have no issue with clicking a Twitter ad or using a paid ad result to discover what they are looking for.

The native advertising space is getting more and more packed with companies focused on making native advertising a consistent and effortless experience for both brands and users. Apester, which recently raised a round of $12M, is a startup that helps companies create interactive native advertising for more effectively engaging customers. Sharethrough is the “modern supply side platform,” integrating native advertising with a user-friendly business model. And BrightInfo which generates personalized content recommendations for B2B companies that rely heavily on their premium content to lead customers through a content journey and improve the selling cycle. These are just three of the many companies specializing in the native advertising experience, proving the jump in importance and popularity this communication method is taking in the advertising space.

Advertising is meant to inform customers about new products and services. Native advertising is just doing this in more organic ways that appeal to both customers and brands alike.