How many times have you heard cryptic language online and weren’t sure if you were behind the curve or just trying to be fooled into this position? From big data to corporate journalism to brand publishing, there are many buzzwords in the tech world that are poorly defined and loosely used. Another example: native advertising.

How Native Advertising Came to Be

Native advertising was a term that was rarely used, that is, up until last summer when the word started popping up in advertising circles and marketing blogs. Some people felt totally out of the loop while others relished in the fact that they had heard of the term, and therefore, were somehow ahead of the game. The truth? Native advertising isn’t exactly new, and it means something different for everyone.

In September of last year, investor Fred Wilson gave a speech at OMMA Global and used the term “native monetization” to describe advertisements that are unique and native to the experience of the site. Appreciating the concept, Dan Greenberg, the CEO of Sharethrough, began promoting the idea of native advertising. While we’re not certain exactly who coined the term, the concept has caught on like wildfire.

Exploring Native Ads and Their Place in Marketing

By definition, native advertising is a form of media that is built into the visual design of the site. Basically, the ads are part of the content. Some say that native advertising is just another word for content marketing, while others, including Greenberg, say there is a distinction. No matter how you look at it, the goal of native advertising is to gain the user’s attention by providing content that fits within the context of the user’s experience. This leads to better communication between brands and customers.

So, what are some examples of native advertising? A promoted tweet on Twitter or a suggested post on Facebook serve as good examples. According to research from IPG Media Lab, native ads work. They are likely to be viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are more likely to be shared than a banner ad. With a high potential for going viral, this means that native ads can be seen all over the world without incurring high costs for the advertiser.