Native advertising is a business model increasingly used at the local level to monetize content. Here is a cheat sheet for new terminology, including definitions of the most common terms used to talk about native ads:
1. Content marketing. Content marketing is a general term that includes any form of content specifically intended to attract customers from the audience.
2. Native advertising. Native advertising is a type of content marketing; specifically, paid content designed to mimic the look, voice and design formatting of the media platform where it is placed. In short, while labeled, it is designed to "feel" like the media's own content.
At the local media level, most native advertising is marked "sponsored" and produced by a non-newsroom local media editorial staff. It can include infographics, photo galleries, video, and polls as well as news articles.
Advertorials, conversely, are paid content written by the advertiser and which the font, style and other design elements are specifically required to differ from that of the local media.
There are six native ad units (3 to 8 below) approved by IAB.
3. In-feed native ads. Also called in-stream ads, in-feed ads are native ads placed in the news feed or queue, either at the top, bottom or in between the media's own news iitems. National examples include Facebook and LinkedIn's sponsored posts.
Local media typically place native ads in-stream on the high traffic home page. However, verticalized native is placed in-stream content on niche sites, such as weddings, health or dining.
4. Promoted listings. Promoted listings are typically directory listings whose owners have paid to have them "moved to the top" of the feed, or to other more highly viewed site areas.
5. Recommendation widgets. Outbrain and Taboola offer recommendations for paid content promoted in related story widgets typically at the bottom or to the side of news. The publisher is paid on a pay-per-click model. These platforms form a kind of ad network for additional distribution of native ads if the advertiser wants to buy more than the local media site.
6. Paid search. The paid search model adopted by search engines Google and Bing, is considered a native unit by IAB.
7. In-ad units. In-ad units are standard IAB size (300 x 250, 300x600, etc.) ad units that have native content features. One of the platforms that provides these units is Onespot.
8. Custom. Custom native ads are unique, non-IAB standard formats. They can be small units such as boxes that scroll across the middle or bottom of high traffic pages, or whole channels that take over site background. If it's not in-feed, and not in an ad unit, it's probably custom.
9. Sponsored content. The original meaning of sponsored content was any newsroom project which is "sponsored by," but not written for, an advertiser.
An example is a "Best of the City" guide, in which the presenting sponsor's logo can be branded on the front cover, though the advertiser is otherwise not associated with the contest.
Today, most local media refer to native ads interchangeabley as sponsored content - or sponsored posts - to remind advertisers that they are not in control of writing the copy and because labels typically says "sponsored" anyway.
10. Branded content. Branded content has a number of shifting definitions. Typically it means content written for a client that also "belongs to the client," that is, directly from the client to the reader, and typically residing on client-controlled media such as websites.
11. Owned media. Similar to branded content, this is simply a general term to include all content on a client's brand channels, including social, mobile and web. Owned media refers to all promotions on all the channels, rather than just the content. One native ad distribution platform, for example, automates reformating content into owned media for distribution on Facebook.
12. Earned media. Earned media is mentions and other coverage of an advertiser by independent media outlets. The difficulty of acquiring earned media is the reason native has become so valuable.
One last note on the new lexicon, if you are creating a native program, some local media have followed national native programs and given their content teams upscale names like the Content Design Center and the Brand Studio. Consider referring to native ads as "Customized" to designate that the content is specifically design for the customer, and the URL where the blog roll of advertiser content resides as the "Brand Channel" to specific they will have their own content area on the media site.
Why park an advetiser's native blog roll on a backdoor URL when the custom content created by the brand studio could live on a customized brand channel?