Mobile Native Ads - A Natural and Effective Monetization Tool
From social media feeds to sponsored app content, mobile native ads flip the script of conventional advertising to garner strong results for marketers and healthy revenue for publishers.
Native advertising makes up a significant portion of the digital marketing landscape, but there’s still one relatively untapped opportunity to pursue — mobile devices. From promoting brands on social media feeds to launching mobile game cosmetics, native ads monetize app content in ways that provide value to all parties, including users.
In this article, we’ll introduce mobile native ads and highlight best practices that will help you succeed in the space.
What are Mobile Native Ads?
Mobile native ads are a subset of native advertising that reflect their in-app environments. While they bear some similarity to desktop-based native ads, publishers can optimize placements around smartphone displays and interfaces. Mobile native ads appear on content & social media feeds, GPS maps, and many other channels.
Native advertising is an ad format where units take the form of the surrounding host content. It integrates so seamlessly into the platform that users will generally treat it as official publisher content. For example, when you conduct a Google search and see entries marked “Ad” at the top of the results, those sites represent native advertisements.
How much do Mobile Native Ads Make?
Mobile native ad revenues vary widely by platform and application due to their highly specialized nature, so determining benchmarks can be difficult. However, approximately two-thirds of native ads are deployed on the world’s biggest social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where they blend into user feeds and profiles. Today, non-social ad units are on the rise, particularly in-app, making them a promising opportunity for publishers and brand advertisers to explore.
Why Use Mobile Native Ads?
Mobile publishers can sometimes face a variation of the phenomenon known as banner blindness, where users get used to ad placements and ignore content in those spaces. Native advertising attacks this problem by placing sponsored content into areas of the user interface where the majority of attention is directed in an unobtrusive way so that users are more likely to see them, become interested, and click on them. Studies suggest that users find native ads more trustworthy than traditional ads and are 60% more likely to interact with them — driving more revenue for publishers in the process.
Just as publishers benefit from the increased engagement with native ads, advertisers gain more awareness of their products and services and can expect higher engagement from ads thanks to their seamless integrations and resemblance to publisher content. Native ad CTR tends to be eight times higher than traditional display ads, while overall views increase by over 50%.
Types of mobile native ads
Native ad configurations are more flexible than traditional display formats because they are not limited to specific format sizes. An individual ad unit posted on two different apps would share certain features — such as a headline, image, or preview text — but contextual references would change to frame it based on the unique contents of the publisher’s app. Despite these differences, mobile native ads fall into categories depending on the type of app or website that deploys them.
Programmatic native ads
Programmatic native ads are units that can be deployed through mobile real-time bidding technologies like those that leverage the OpenRTB protocol. They are generally flexible enough to appear on any publisher app or feed within its category. Programmatic native ads often direct users to other apps or websites where they can engage with advertiser content, such as reading a blog post, installing an app, or downloading a white paper.
Sponsored content is a type of content that advertisers create for a specific publisher. The most common examples are guest blog posts and videos, but they can extend to other in-app content such as mobile game levels, cosmetics, and even large-scale content releases like Travis Scott’s appearance in Fortnite or Lil Nas X’s appearance in Roblox.
While the specifics of these types of partnerships are confidential, the paid addition of external content and massive reach arguably makes them among the largest mobile native advertising campaigns in history.
Programmatic native ads vs. sponsored content
Both programmatic ads and sponsored content are examples of native ads, although they have slightly different benefits and drawbacks. Programmatic native ads are easier to scale but often rely on machine learning techniques and identifier data to target users effectively. Furthermore, the variability in different rendering styles can become a bottleneck. Sponsored native ads are more difficult to scale but can be individually customized to reflect the intended audience’s interests. In some cases, a publisher’s content team may work directly with advertisers to design content that drives user engagement, as is often the case with virtual community events like those mentioned above.
In-feed social advertising
The most common form of native ads, in-feed social advertising, deploys into social media feeds using the same formatting as user-generated posts. Publishers mark these ads as “Promoted” to signify the content comes from another brand.
In-feed content ads are units that fit within scrollable feeds such as blog post listings or news websites. Publishers can deploy these placements programmatically or as sponsored content.
In-feed commerce ads are placements located within shopping apps and web pages. They typically appear above organic results to offer similar products that might drive user interest.
In-map native ads appear while using GPS apps and websites to offer promotions for nearby businesses.
Native ads in mobile games are one of the more intriguing opportunities of this emerging format. In-game native ads take the form of sponsored content such as cosmetics unlocked by engaging with rewarded advertisements or making an in-app purchase.
Recommendation widgets deploy within blog posts, video end cards, and other locations that promote related content. Instead of directing users to publisher content, these widgets redirect users to a webpage or app promoted by an advertiser.
Paid search ads
One of the earliest forms of native advertising, paid search ads appear above organic search results from platforms like Google. These placements appear identical to organic results, save for a small text-based notification beside the headline.
Best practices for mobile native ads
Avoid disrupting the user experience
Mobile native ads must align with the surrounding content, but that doesn’t mean they should disappear into the background. These units perform best when they are simultaneously informative, eye-catching, and non-disruptive. Advertisers need to keep in mind that their competition is no longer other advertisers, but the very organic content that users go to the app expecting.
The goal of native advertising is to attract user attention without disrupting the overall user experience. That means users should be able to see native placements and understand what they are without it taking over the screen — if you have to close a native ad manually, it’s not a native ad!
The ideal approach for publishers is to place mobile native ads in locations that align with surrounding content, such as content feeds. Meanwhile, advertisers can attract user attention with eye-catching headlines that reflect the interests of the publisher’s audiences.
Use native ads to build trust
Most surveys suggest that users are comfortable with native ads unless they feel the deployment is deceptive. A misleading ad can take various forms — it might not promote itself as an advertisement or direct users to a type of content they didn’t expect to find.
Don’t approach native ads as just another way to drive traffic, but as a channel for delivering useful content to an audience. Doing so will build trust for publishers and advertisers while encouraging users to click on different native ads in the future.
Treat native marketing like content marketing
Native marketing is not that different from content marketing, especially when it comes to sponsored content. One of the best examples of native marketing came from Netflix, who hired marketing and communications expert Melanie Deziel to write a New York Times article promoting Orange Is the New Black.
This well-researched piece highlighted the real-world conditions of inmates in women’s prisons, emphasizing journalistic value beyond the show itself.
Native advertising does not have to be disposable. When created with intent, native ads can go viral on their own merit and drive organic views beyond the branded product.
Take advantage of the mobile experience
Mobile native ads don’t have to be desktop native ads resized for a smartphone screen. Mobile devices have all kinds of capabilities that publishers and advertisers can take advantage of, such as cameras, GPS monitors, accelerometer sensors, and more.
When designing mobile native ads, Melanie Deziel recommends advertisers leverage user intent, experience, and physicality of the entire device to create a robust experience that generates value for those interacting with it.
Master your mobile ad monetization
Mobile native ad placements are part of any profitable ad monetization strategy. Vungle’s comprehensive monetization platform includes everything publishers need to drive consistent fill rates and maximize revenue from their mobile app portfolios.
Vungle can also work with you first-hand to develop high-value placements and connect you with exclusive advertising demand sources that align with your audience’s unique interests. Get in touch with us to find out more!