Native Content 101: What Is Native Content, and Why You Need It

- by

Want to increase engagement and boost your brand perception? Let's explore this impactful advertising approach: native content.

In advertising and marketing, businesses can use many strategies and techniques to promote their products and services. The largest social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — as well as the publishing industry — think Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today, all integrate native ads into their platforms. And you possibly didn’t even notice it! 

What is Native Marketing Content?

Native content is all about blending in. We're talking seamless integration into the content your audience is already engaging with. The goal is to create an advertisement that looks and feels like it is part of the organic content rather than something that is clearly marked as an advertisement. 

You can find native content in things like articles, videos and social media posts. These ads are typically labelled as sponsored or paid content, but the labelling is often subtle and may not be immediately obvious to the reader. 

The host site determines how the content is displayed and where it is placed. Based on the algorithm, the host site may recommend the content to readers, which appears in the footers and sidebars of the website.

Other Names for Native Content

While native content is the most common term for this type of advertising, you might find other people referring to it as:

  • Native advertising
  • Zero-click content
  • Sponsored content
  • Promoted posts
  • Branded content
  • In-feed ads
  • Custom content 
  • Paid social media

How Native Content Works

The key to native content is that it is designed to blend in with the organic content on a website or social media platform. This means that the ad must be crafted in a way that fits seamlessly with the surrounding content. 

For example, a native content piece on a news website might take the form of an article or opinion piece. The article would be written like the rest of the content on the website, with an attention-grabbing headline and an engaging story.

The article might mention the promoted brand or product, but these mentions would naturally be woven into the narrative unobtrusively. The goal is to create an ad that provides value to the reader while subtly and effectively promoting the brand.


This sponsored ad appeared in the platform's regular newsfeed, leading users to a unique page on the NYT's website. It highlights the importance of birds in our environment and their vulnerability to climate change, which resonates with the shoe company's sustainability mission and name. This illustrates how native content can be relevant to your brand without necessarily being about it.

Why Use Native Content?

There’s some pretty strong science behind native content. Even the highest-performing mobile ads have a click-through rate of 1-5%. The unconscious part of your brain (95% of your brain is unconscious, actually) is responsible for decision-making. Native ads tap into your subconscious by blending in when your brain seeks relevant content through reading. Your mind will see something like a banner ad, but your focus will be engaged with a native ad embedded into an article. 

This results in some pretty interesting and persuasive (IMO) reasons to use native content. 

Increased Engagement

Consumers looked at native ads 2X more than editorial content and spent the same number of seconds viewing them. Because native content is designed to blend in with organic content, it’s often more engaging and effective than traditional banner ads or pop-ups. Readers are more likely to read and engage with an ad that is seamlessly integrated into the content they are already interested in.

Improved Perception

Native marketing content can also improve the way that consumers perceive your brand. Because these ads are designed to provide value to the reader, rather than just pushing a product or service, they can create a positive association with your brand in the mind of the consumer. 

Better Targeting

25% more consumers looked at in-feed, native ad placements more than standard banners. Many native content platforms offer advanced targeting options, allowing businesses to reach specific audiences based on location, interests, and demographics. This can help ensure that your ad is being seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.


While creating high-quality native marketing content can be time-consuming and expensive, the cost per click or impression is often lower than other types of advertising. This can make it a cost-effective option for businesses that are looking to reach a wide audience on a limited budget. And in this economy, we all need ways to save some coin! 

Improved SEO

Native marketing content can also help improve your search engine rankings. By creating high-quality content that readers share and engage with, you can improve your visibility on search engines like Google.

Unblocked Ads

We love ad-blocking features, but as marketers, we also hate them. Native content is difficult for ad-blocking tools to detect and block. Traditional ads are often intrusive and irrelevant, whereas native content is more engaging and less likely to be perceived as annoying. In fact, 32% of respondents said they would share a native ad with friends or family, compared to only 19% for banner ads.

So what's the bottom line? If you're not using native content, you could be missing out on a valuable tactic to increase conversions. And lucky for you, Starling Social is here to help. Our team of social media gurus can create killer native content that blends seamlessly with organic content on any platform.

Trust us, we know how to make an impression. So why not let us help you take your brand to the next level with some native content? Get in touch with us today, and let's get to work!