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To give you a little background, not all of paid online advertising is the same. To classify it into two basic categories, there are native ads and display ads. So, what’s the difference?

Native Ads

Native ads are “hidden” within content, meaning they blend in to what you’re reading. Relating it to more traditional advertising, it’s the product placement of the digital world. One of the most well-known examples of native ads is sponsored stories within your Facebook news feed. While advertisers have to classify these ads as sponsored, these posts don’t seem different in comparison to any other organic post you come across.

Other examples of native advertising are AdWords search page ads, Twitter sponsored posts and sponsored stories on websites.

Xfinity Native Ad Buzzfeed
This native Xfinity ad on Buzzfeed falls within their story feed

Display Ads

Moving on to display ads – these are the type of ads you likely associate with online advertising. They are different forms of banner ads on a page that you know are associated with a certain brand.

Winner?

Because of their difference in approach, the debate between which of these types of advertising is more successful comes down to one question: Are users more likely to click on an ad when they don’t know they’re being advertised to? The answer is yes. Native ads get 53% more views than displays ads.

But, why? If you’ve done some research on online marketing in general, you’ve heard the phrase “content is key.” It cannot be stressed enough. Native ads match the editorial style of the publisher site they’re displayed on. They monetize content for publishers and give advertisers a seamless way to get in front of customers.

Don’t stop your displays ads just yet, however. Although advertisers have to show that their ads are sponsored/ promoted, some users aren’t too fond of advertisements being “hidden” among regular (non-paid) content. Two-thirds of users in a survey conducted by Contently said they felt deceived when they found out the content they were reading was sponsored by a brand. In fact, more than half didn’t even know what sponsored content truly was. With 54% of people not trusting sponsored content, who is the true winner?

Both forms of advertising have their pros and cons. Because success in the online marketing world is based on metrics, like clicks, impressions and conversions, native ads are the winner. When it comes to trustworthiness, display ads take the cake, as they are considered less deceptive.

Takeaway

If you opt for display ads, remember these banner ads are not just boring rectangles on the top of a website. You’re competing for the ad space and reader attention, so make it worth it and get creative. Check out Fiat’s display ad for encouraging people not to drink and drive. The interactive ad has a car being crushed down the more you “drink” from the beer glass (logo displayed as you go down).

Fiat Interactive Banner Ad
Fiat goes interactive in their display ad

As an advertiser, if you opt for native ads, define what the goal is. Do you want to purely create brand awareness or do you want readers to engage with your brand? Having engagement as a goal requires you to set a clear call to action. The content you provide to publishers should be relevant to their target market and should encourage readers to go to your website to learn more.

As a publisher, if you choose to display native ads on your website, make sure the sponsored content is clearly labeled. Also assure that you have guidelines for advertisers to follow. You want to be able to control what kind of content is on your website.

Have some more insight or want to share your experience with different ad platforms? Let us know.

Have questions?

Our experts are here to help. We live and breathe just about everything going on in the digital world.

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