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Digital Advertising Showdown: Native Ads Vs Banner Ads

For many brands, the term “online advertising” is synonymous with banner ads and pay per click (PPC) campaigns. And historically, this approach has been met with great success—until now, that is.


In recent years, there’s been growing disdain amongst consumers toward overtly blatant advertising. They’re more discerning when it comes the ways in which they’re marketed to, and as a result, the aforementioned in-your-face banner ads have taken a big hit.


So much so in fact, that research has shown that you’re more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than click on a banner ad. This phenomenon has even been given its very own moniker—“banner blindness”—and is thought to be responsible for the increasingly poor click-through rates display advertising is yielding across the world.


Savvy marketers have been looking for an antidote to this so-called banner blindness for years, and thankfully, they’ve finally discovered a potent remedy: native advertising.


Marketers continue to leverage the power of paid media to boost their campaigns, but now they’re doing it through native advertising. Native advertising engages readers, helps improve brand image and awareness, and boasts click-through rates many times higher than those of display ads.


Still not convinced that banner ads are out and native ads are in? Let’s throw them both in the ring to battle it out and see who emerges victorious.


Round One: Engagement


Consumers are becoming more and more adept at glossing over display ads while browsing the web. To tackle the issue, marketers must produce high-quality content that fits into the organic user experience of a given platform.


Native ad units conform to the design and feel of the sites on which they display, meaning that the immersive user experience is preserved while producing click-through rates similar to that of editorial content.


The goal of native advertising isn’t to “trick” people into consuming your content; it’s meant to engage with them in a way that’s mutually beneficial. And that’s where banner ads fall short.


Round Two: Brand Lift


Native advertising excels when it comes to achieving brand lift. Brand lift, on its most basic level, is an increase in interaction with a company as a result of an advertising campaign, and is used to pinpoint positive shifts in customer awareness and brand perception.


Research has shown that native ads registered nine per cent higher for brand affinity, and 18 per centhigher for purchase intent when compared to traditional banner ads. What’s more, the same study also revealed that customers who previously purchased from the advertiser reported “personally identifying” with the brand after viewing a native advertisement.


Conversely, there is no such research indicating brand lift from banner ads. In fact, your customers are more likely to create a negative perception of your brand for interrupting their content experience.


Round Three: Consumption


Native advertising is designed to mirror the content of the site it appears upon. This means that those writing native ad copy need to wear their journalist’s hat as well as their marketer’s hat. The best native ads tell stories in the same way that an article would. The only difference is that in this case, they’re telling the story of your brand.


Research has also shown that consumers look at original editorial content and native ads for a similar length of time. So can the same be said for banner ads? Gilad de Vries, vice president of brands and agencies at Outbrain, suggests not.


“[Display ads] are incredibly weak branding vehicles,” explains de Vries. “You can add all the bells and whistles you want to banner ads, but they’ll never truly create the kind of emotional experience that gets consumers excited about your brand.”


Round Four: Relevancy

Display ads originally gave advertisers a way to focus their efforts by isolating target audiences based on age, location, browsing habits, and much more. But even with this extensive targeting, it could still lead to irrelevant ads. These impertinent ad units may have been served according to a user’s browsinghistory, as opposed to matching the content currently being consumed by the user.


Enter native advertising.


Native advertising, by its very nature, matches ad units to the content that surrounds them. “Let’s say you’re a fan of Ford vehicles,” says Danny Brown, Manager of Social Engagement and Insights at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). “You visit a site like Jalopnik and, while reading about the new Ford F-150, you see an accompanying ad for tonneau covers, or tire pressure monitoring hardware. By providing complementary ads to an audience on a relevant site, and providing context for the purchase, the chances of the ad being more successful are higher than an ad for toothpaste, for example.”


So, we’ve given a blow-by-blow account detailing the merits (and demerits) of native ads and banner ads. But the question still remains: who’s the victor in this monumental digital marketing battle?


Well, as a native advertising platform, perhaps we’re a little biased. We’re not bashing banner ads—they still serve their purpose. We simply believe they should form a smaller part of the overall marketing mix to make way for more modern and progressive forms of online advertising—such as native.


At the end of the day, native advertising offers exciting new opportunities to engage with audiences in meaningful ways—and that makes it the clear winner in our eyes.


Contact us for more information on our native advertising opportunities:

Written by Joseph Neusu

Joseph Neusu
1 Comment
  • Posted at 6:50 am, October 19, 2016

    You are right Joseph, native advertising is more reliable than paid ads. Content that addresses the target audience will generate more leads.
    Thanks for sharing valuable information.

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