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Why native ads are now the primary display unit

The death knell for the banner ad was rung long ago. So you might be surprised to learn that display advertising is alive and kicking. Native ads have supplanted banners as the primary display medium, and with more attention, higher clickthrough rates and lower effective costs, that’s great news for brand advertisers.


There’s a longstanding misconception that native is synonymous with content marketing. And while it’s true distributing branded or sponsored content is a great use of native, it’s not the only tactic to which the ad format is suited.

Increasingly brands are using native in more “traditional” applications: to extend the reach of a TV spot, for example, or to drive traffic to a strategic landing page. In the past pre-roll and banners would be used to accomplish these ends. But with the explosion of mobile, and the rise of the discontented consumer, marketing strategies must change.

Native ads, not banners, have emerged as the standard digital ad format. In 2016 more than half of all display revenue will come from native formats, and in five years, native is projected to make up three quarters of the display market. Despite the obvious headwinds, display can still be an effective digital marketing tactic. Retargeting users who abandoned their shopping cart, or promoting the new season of Netflix’s Chef to foodies are still great use cases for banners. (Native would also play a role in those examples.) If the goal is to remind the user of something they’ve already shown interest in, banners remain effective in certain cases.

But when trying to persuade a consumer, to sway their opinion, or motivate a change in behaviour, native is unequivocally the best solution. Why? Because to persuade anyone of anything, you first need their attention.

Banners are notoriously bad at getting people’s attention—in-feed native ads are built for it.

A native ad with a headline receives twice as much visual attention as a banner ad, even one placed in feed. This can be the difference between being read and merely been seen.

The fact that native ads are better creative and strategic tools of persuasion than banners is proven in brand lift studies as well. Native ads result in 18 per cent higher lift in purchase intent than banners.

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