With ads popping up everywhere—on websites, games, and as you walk down the street—people’s growing ad fatigue has led to a phenomenon marketers call “banner blindness”.
Even though this sounds like a nightmare for brands and publishers, all is not lost. The situation has seen publishers embrace different ad formats to connect with audiences, including native ads.
Native ads have grown in popularity thanks to the fact that they seamlessly blend in with a publisher’s existing content, are less likely to be blocked by ad blockers and come in a variety of different styles.
Check out our list of the 15 best native advertising examples for publishers in 2024 to understand how you can use this strategy.
Best Native Advertising Examples for Publishers in 2024:
11. Panoply and GE
13. Gimlet and eBay
What Is Native Advertising and How Does It Work?
Unlike traditional banner ads or pop-ups, native ads are designed to blend seamlessly with the content of the website they appear on. A true native ad is subtle, inconspicuous, and sometimes even unnoticeable.
With that said, native ads are usually accompanied by some type of disclosure that they’re sponsored content to protect audience trust and comply with advertising guidelines.
Native ads are supported by dedicated online systems that serve as intermediaries between advertisers and publishers. These native ad platforms provide tools to both create and distribute native ads.
Types of Native Ads
There are four types of native ads:
1. Content Recommendation Widgets
Widgets are among the most prevalent native ad types, presenting users with content suggestions. They typically appear at the end of web pages, featured articles, or blog posts, and should blend seamlessly with the surrounding content.
2. Promoted Listings
Promoted listings allow businesses to boost their visibility by paying for higher placement in search results on various platforms.
3. In-Feed Units
In-feed units exist on social media platform users, such as Facebook or Twitter. They’re less intrusive and are especially useful because of their precise targeting based on user interests and demographics.
4. Custom Plug
Custom plugs are a versatile subset of native content and can include sponsored posts on social media platforms. They’re sponsored ads that mimic regular user-generated content (UGC). Video is also prevalent, appearing as pre-roll or in-stream adverts within online videos.
5. Newsletter advertising
Newsletter advertising is delivered directly to inboxes, offering an immediate reach and bypassing ad-blocking measures. Newsletters are known for driving content awareness, boosting website traffic, and generating leads.
They appear in two primary types:
- Sponsorships: Newsletter sponsorships are a partnership between the publisher and the advertiser. In some cases, publishers even adjust the sponsorship design and copy to align with their publication's style.
- Programmatic ads: While sponsorships are individually created, programmatic ads enable advertisers to deploy campaigns across various newsletters.
Mastering the implementation of native adverts is essential for marketers seeking to craft likable ad campaigns. Publishers, on the other hand, benefit from the symbiotic relationship between content and advertising, which can improve their sites’ user experience (UX).
For marketers and publishers to benefit from engaging and valuable content promotion they need to remember these key points:
- Ensure seamless integration
- Preserve platform integrity
- Deliver targeted content
- Enhance credibility through relevancy
15 Native Advertising Examples
1. The Washington Post and Mercedes
Mercedes published an unexpected and interactive quiz page within The Washington Post, called “The Rise of the Superhuman”.
The quiz page, embedded within the publication, seamlessly becomes part of the user experience, aligning with the platform’s editorial direction, presenting the content in a way that feels native to The Washington Post's audience.
Source: Washington Post
- Through this alignment with The Washington Post, Mercedes not only expands its reach to a wider audience but also positions itself as a brand that goes beyond traditional automotive advertising, making this native ad a strong marketing tactic because of its long-lasting effect not just short-term sales.
- The quiz approach provides the audience with entertainment and educational value, making a lasting impression on readers.
2. Buzzfeed and Purina
Purina and Buzzfeed have collaborated on a number of sponsored posts that adopt the publisher’s listicle style of article writing.
The below native ad example shows how Purina has created an article that blends in with the publisher’s wider portfolio of light-hearted articles. More than that, however, is the fact that the piece has attracted 20 comments from Buzzfeed readers.
- Purina’s strategy succeeded because it tapped into a very passionate target audience—pet lovers and owners.
- Leaning into the influence of platforms such as Buzzfeed amplifies reach and engagement.
3. National Geographic and DHL
DHL, a leader in logistics, collaborated with National Geographic to create a compelling brand story, depicting their involvement in “The Race to Save Big Cats”.
This DHL campaign is a strategic choice to position itself within the context of real-world impact and sustainability, ensuring a global promotional reach for the brand.
- DHL's strategic partnership with National Geographic aimed to leverage the renowned publication's credibility and global reach.
- DHL integrates its brand story within the context of National Geographic's content style, ensuring a natural and engaging fit.
- This native ad aims to provide value to the audience beyond product promotion. By engaging in real-world issues, DHL creates a positive association between its brand and impactful global initiatives, enhancing the native advertising campaign’s credibility and relevance.
4. The Telegraph and Ikea
Ikea's A-Z puzzle for better sleep approach proved effective because it relied on practical advice rather than pushing products. This solidified Ikea as a brand that is focused on nurturing trust with its shoppers.
Source: The Telegraph
- Ikea’s ad establishes brand authority in the sleep and lifestyle sector.
- The brand has promoted its expertise in addressing common concerns rather than simply posting product images, reinforcing trust.
5. Fortune and Salesforce
Fortune's partnership with Salesforce created a video emphasizing the beauty of Hawaii and the importance of the ocean cleanup initiative. The paid content ties Salesforce’s technological solutions to the sustainability movement.
- This ad aims to build brand awareness for Salesforce in the sustainability domain under environmental agency PMDP’s leadership.
- Native ads can leverage content to showcase a brand's capabilities or offerings in a way that feels integrated with the narrative. In this instance, Salesforce is portrayed as a leader in leveraging technology for climate change and environmental initiatives.
6. Business Insider and Native Seeds
Business Insider's Glass Gem Corn story from 2012 was strategically designed to look like editorial content, but was a paid ad that contains dozens of links to the same Native Seeds sales page.
Rather than a typical sponsored post, the publisher opted for a picture-heavy story, making it more appealing to readers. The publisher has refreshed the article in the intervening years.
Source: Business Insider
- Glass Gem Corn was a popular Facebook story that increased engagement and traffic for the portal and click-through rates (CTRs) for the seed seller.
- It was a real-time demonstration that native digital advertising can drive long-term success, with the seeds being a top product for the seller to this day.
7. Netflix and Spotify
Netflix and Spotify teamed up in 2022 to capitalize on the success of “Stranger Things” and its viral soundtrack. The streaming platforms offered their passionate audiences an interactive way to engage with the show through the “Upside Down Playlist”. Which not only created stronger bonds with their loyal users but also attracted new ones.
- Spotify benefited from tracking and acting on the listening habits of its users, ensuring user engagement and retention for the platform.
- Jumping on the pop culture wagon attracts new users through a unique, entertainment-driven feature.
8. Neptune Energy
Neptune Energy, a Norwegian oil company, faced recruitment challenges so it partnered with Schibsted Brand Studio. The studio's strategists met Neptune Energy employees and found the key to the native ad campaign.
The campaign won two awards at the Native Advertising Observatory in Copenhagen in 2023.
The native ad campaign drove:
- 3,000 clicks
- 16,318 page views
- CTR of 17.6%
- 200 qualified applications within two weeks
9. Entrepreneur and Intro
Entrepreneur teamed up with Intro to create the “Ask an Expert” initiative, which allowed the audience to book world-class experts for personalized one-to-one video calls. The option allowed Entrepreneur's audience to connect with mentors.
- The service uses Entrepreneur's branding but runs on Intro’s site. Entrepreneur provides help articles about the service on its own website.
- The collaboration’s interactive nature improves the readers’ experience and encourages a connection between the audience and the service, making this a beneficial promotion for both platforms.
10. Spotify and American Eagle Outfitters
American Eagle Outfitters teamed up with Spotify to integrate its brand into the Spotify experience with more than 80 unique playlists, tailored for different times of the year, including holidays and back-to-school seasons.
The clothing retailer’s goal was to connect with the streaming platform’s predominantly younger audience in a more authentic manner.
- Spotify's user base predominantly comprises millennials, with 50% of users under 34, aligning perfectly with American Eagle's target demographic.
- The introduction of the “Hear what Millennials are listening to” streaming list showcased the brand’s commitment to engaging with its target audience.
- The American Eagle playlists were curated for different months and major events, ensuring relevance throughout the year.
- This strategy helped American Eagle extend its brand identity beyond being a clothing retailer, positioning it as a lifestyle brand in touch with millennials.
11. Panoply and GE
Podcasting network Panoply and General Electric teamed up for the sci-fi podcast "The Message", which incorporated GE technology into its plot. The podcast topped the iTunes charts, amassing more than 4 million downloads.
GE was mentioned only in the podcast's introduction, credits and cover art, avoiding direct advertising in the storyline. This approach not only led to a sequel but also earned a Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising.
Source: Apple Podcasts
- Moving beyond articles and social media, this collaboration explored podcasts as a platform for native advertising.
- The podcast incorporated GE technology into its story, ensuring the content remained engaging without explicit advertising.
- The strategy's uniqueness was acknowledged with a Webby Award, showcasing its effectiveness in native advertising.
- The development of a sequel, "Life After”, demonstrated the strategy's ability to maintain audience interest and sustain brand relevance.
12. CNN and Eni Energy
Eni Energy promoted its Green River Project, an initiative in Nigeria's Niger Delta aimed at improving agriculture and livestock to better local livelihoods, through native ads on CNN.
The campaign narrates Eni's involvement in environmental and social development, using diverse media to depict the project's impact on the community. This strategy diverges from traditional oil company advertising, striving for a more environmental narrative.
- By advertising on CNN, Eni aimed to connect with a broader and more liberal audience by aligning its narrative with the values and interests often emphasized by the network. The campaign aims to distance Eni from typical oil and gas perceptions, positioning itself as a socially and environmentally responsible entity.
- The campaign engages audiences with a mix of text, images, audio, and video, making the narrative more immersive and relatable.
- The ad highlights the tangible benefits for local communities, from improved livelihoods to education, and showcases Eni’s role in sustainable development.
13. Gimlet and eBay
Gimlet Media teamed up with eBay to create a unique podcast series, marking their first project in branded podcasts. This series, spanning two seasons, shared valuable insights from experienced business owners and experts, focusing on how to start and grow a business. Gimlet was open about the podcast being an ad for eBay, setting a high standard in the field of native advertising.
- The podcast offered practical tips and knowledge, making it a helpful guide for those looking to start their own business.
- Gimlet's clear communication about eBay's involvement in the podcast is a good example of transparent advertising.
- The inclusion of seasoned professionals and successful entrepreneurs added value and depth to the podcast, making it more trustworthy and engaging for listeners.
14. The Guardian and General Mills
The Guardian collaborated with General Mills to create a sponsored article about regenerative agriculture. The article features interactive elements that engage readers, with a small mention of General Mills at the end. The article also clearly marks itself as a native advertisement, ensuring readers are aware of its nature.
Source: The Guardian
- The article achieves a balance between informative and promotional content.
- It incorporates interactive features to keep readers engaged.
- The post openly identifies as a native ad, maintaining transparency with readers.
15. The New York Times and Allbirds
The New York Times and Allbirds partnered on a sponsored article that blended in smoothly with the outlet’s regular content.
The article was featured on a special page with engaging graphics and sounds. Focusing on environmental protection, the content matched both Allbirds' dedication to sustainability and the media outlet’s long-form, educational content.
- The article visually matches the NYT’s style, offering a smooth reading experience.
- The piece provided valuable information on environmental issues, increasing its appeal and engagement with readers.
- The “sponsored” tag on the article ensured transparency, letting readers know it was promotional.
- All sounds are muted by default, another hallmark of native advertising.
From social media ads to video ads, the internet is awash with brands trying to reach their target audiences. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that 90% of consumers are annoyed by digital ads. This just means that brands and publishers must work together to move away from standardized selling tactics.
Native advertisements’ unique strength lies in their ability to engage through narrative, subtly obscuring the advertising element. This personalized and non-disruptive approach goes beyond the sales pitch, bypassing user resistance in the process.
Media companies looking to publish native advertising must ensure the ads not only fit their surrounding content but are also memorable.
If you’re looking to take your first step towards better monetization, then consider exploring what Publift can offer to elevate your advertising game. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we’ve been helping more than 350 publishers across 60 countries increase their revenue since 2015.