Digital Advertising

Everything You Need To Know About The IAB Native Ad Playbook – in one page

Gupta Polar loves native advertising. In fact, our platform MediaVoice enables publishers to easily deliver native ads, which leverages their existing CMS and ad serving infrastructure, placing them in-stream across desktop and mobile sites. We’ve been working with our publisher clients on delivering the experience that will give them their best results. But up until now, there hasn’t been an “official” stance on what a native ad is.

Yesterday, the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) released its 20-page Native Advertising Playbook. With the help of a task force that they have formed, they’ve gone to help answer the question: what is native advertising? (Polar is a member of the IAB.)

“Marketers are already embracing native strategies and publishers are looking for a roadmap that will allow them to take full advantage of the trend,” said Peter Minnium, Head of Brand Initiatives, IAB. “The more we can define and structure the framework surrounding native advertising, the easier we will make it for brands to easily incorporate it into their ad buys.”

When a marketer is evaluating their native ad options, they should ask themselves some core questions to ensure their brand meets their objectives. By laying it out as they did, a framework is established to ensure buyers and sellers of native ads are using a common language:

Form: How does the ad fit within the overall page design, and is it in the reader’s activity stream or not?

Function: Does the ad function like the other elements on the page?

Integration: Does the ad’s behaviour match that of the surrounding content?

Buying and Targeting: Will the ad be fixed to a specific page/section/site, or will it be delivered across a network of sites?

Measurement: What metrics will be used to judge success? (Top of the funnel like views and likes, or bottom of the funnel like sales or data capture.)

Although there are a plethora of native ad units, the IAB has identified 6 core units (below) and ranked them High or Low based on the 5 criteria above:

IN-FEED:

Probably the most common, this native ad unit is embedded within the feed to look like the content around it. There are three types:

Endemic in-feed ad where it’s in the publisher’s normal content well, written by the publisher or in conjunction with the marketer. It links to a story that looks like any other editorial story, and sold with guaranteed placement. Familiar publishers using this today include BuzzFeed and Forbes BrandVoice.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: High
Integration: High
Buying and Targeting: High
Measurement: High

Linked in-feed ad also sits in the publisher’s normal content except it links to an external site. Also sold with guaranteed placement, examples include YouTube,Facebook, and Twitter.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: Low
Integration: High
Buying and Targeting: Low
Measurement: Low

Embedded in-feed also sits in the publisher’s normal content except the content can be viewed without leaving the page (eg. video) and sold in a broad section. Facebook and Twitter are common examples, as is Instagram.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: High
Integration: High
Buying and Targeting: Medium
Measurement: High

PAID SEARCH:

If you’re big into SEM, you already know this one: it appears as a text ad at the top and right rail of a search engine. Some may argue, in fact, that Google’s AdWords was the first online native ad unit.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: High
Integration: High
Buying and Targeting: High
Measurement: Low

RECOMMENDATION WIDGETS:

Quick, what do you think of when I say Outbrain or Taboola? That’s right, their “If you liked this article, we think you’ll like these” sponsored links that typically appear at the bottom of a page. These link to external pages, sold without guaranteed placement, and are measured on brand metrics such as interaction or brand lift.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: Low
Integration: Low
Buying and Targeting: Low
Measurement: High

PROMOTED LISTINGS:

Most commonly found on check-in and shopping sites that don’t typically offer traditional editorial content, these are ads to purchase an item that is contextually relevant to where you are or what you’re already looking for. Amazon is best known for this, so is Yelp, Foursquare, Auto Trader, and Facebook.

IAB Checklist:
Form: High
Function: High
Integration: Low
Buying and Targeting: High
Measurement: Low

IN-AD WITH NATIVE ELEMENTS:

This ad fits within the standard IAB container outside of the editorial well, but is contextually relevant to the content around it. It links to an external page and is sold on guaranteed placement.

IAB Checklist:
Form: Low
Function: High
Integration: Low
Buying and Targeting: High
Measurement: High

CUSTOM:

I suppose everything else falls into this category – custom native ad units such as Tumblr or Pandora.

IAB Checklist:
Narrowly Targeted Placement: High

Regardless of the native ad unit, both Polar and the IAB agree: always distinguish between what is paid advertising vs editorial content.

In conclusion, the IAB reiterates that native is an exciting format which breaks down the barriers of ads simply appearing in leaderboard or right rails.

With contribution from Tony Vlismas, Polar.

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