Recent studies have shown that native ads draw up to 60% more traffic compared to traditional digital ad formats. Native advertising has managed to tread the fine line between profitability and user experience. It is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. In many cases, it manifests as either an article or video, produced by an advertiser with the specific intent to promote a product, while matching the form and style which would otherwise be seen in the work of the platform’s editorial staff. The quality and scalability of native advertising have made it possible to somewhat bridge the gap between brand publishing and banner adverts.
As competition in the native advertising space gets more and more fierce, advertisers and publishers are coming up with increasingly innovative native ads that don’t test users’ patience, convey the advertiser message optimally and have as much standalone value as an editorial piece. In this article, we are going to list the top 10 native ads that have been churned out in the last few years.
10 Examples of Best Native Ads
(1) Samsung India Service Ad
When was the last time that we saw a commercial for an electronics brand that did not boast of its products’ impressive features? It was when the Samsung India Service ad came out. The 4-minute long native ad by Samsung, published on YouTube, has a gripping narrative that takes a look into the lives of some visually impaired children in a hostel in a remote hilly area. The ad has won many hearts by beautifully blending storytelling with its message-driven content.
(2) Intel and Buzzfeed: 15 Things We Did At School That Future Students Will Never Understand
Buzzfeed is one of the largest content marketing platforms and comes up with innovative native ads. One that stands out from the lot is the Intel ad published on Buzzfeed titled “15 Things We Did At School That Future Students Will Never Understand”. The write-up, at the bottom, advertises a new Intel product for users to update their gadget collections. It’s a fun, quirky piece of nostalgia that people will take to immediately and will share with others regardless of the product being advertised – exactly how a native ad is supposed to work.
(3) Airbnb and The New York Times: Via an Island of Hope, a New Home
In an elaborate advertisement published in The New York Times, the travel and hospitality giant Airbnb tells the story of Ellis Island in New York, the immigrant families who settled there and the people who welcomed them with open arms, through narration, maps and archival photos. The narrative beautiful blends in the concepts of warm hospitality and homebuilding, that are very much the selling points of a short-term housing platform like Airbnb. The piece is informative, emotional and gives just the right subtle push towards establishing brand Airbnb as the platform giving people a warm welcome wherever they go.
(4) Netflix and The New York Times: Women Inmates
This is one of the most talked about native ads ever published. Internet-media streaming giant Netflix partnered with The New York Times to come up with a 1500-word piece on female incarceration just before the second season of its popular show Orange Is The New Black became available. The show focuses on the lives, joys, trials and tribulations of a group of women inmates in a New York prison. The piece in The New York Times presented a revealing picture of women inmates with videos, charts and never did it scream the name of the show out loud. It was a great example of adding value to a product with in-depth content.
Netflix has always marvelled at such sponsored content collaborations. It partnered with The Atlantic to come up with a wonderful, graphical, interactive and in-depth piece on the presidential couples in the USA (The Ascent) to promote its show House of Cards. The show was mentioned only twice, once each at the top and bottom of the article. A mention should also be made of the interactive portal (Cocainenomics), exploring the history of the international drug trade, that was published in the The Wall Street Journal to promote the Netflix show Narcos.
(5) General Electric – The Message
GE successfully experimented with fiction, entertainment and audio content to produce an eight-part long podcast in which the science fiction narrative focused on a group of people decoding an ominous message from space. GE created an interactive experience for the listeners that beautifully blended brand storytelling into it. The podcast was not about selling a product, but spreading awareness about what GE stands for as a brand. And given the huge popularity the podcast amassed, the message got through pretty loud and clear.
(6) Under Armour and Complex.com: The Water Diviner
It’s always good to have a superstar as the face of a brand. UnderArmour is a US-based sportswear brand that came up with a hauntingly beautiful ad featuring Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever. The ad skillfully captured Phelps’ preparations before the Olympics and was able to drive home the message that whether it is a star athlete or a commoner, everyone shares the same passion for their respective goals and Under Armour is there with them in their journey. The ad was also masterfully timed, just around the Olympics 2016. It is a standout example of how to approach common people using a celebrity in a way that does not spell out the brand blatantly.
(7) Ikea and The Telegraph: A-Zzz of Bedroom Ideas
Ikea is the largest furniture retailer the world over and they collaborated with The Telegraph to come up with an interactive quiz that also provided users with useful personalized tips on how to sleep well, depending on their answers to the questions. At the end of the quiz and the video, there was a bold underlined link that gave the users an opportunity to check out the range of bedroom products by Ikea. It has been seen that quizzes are interactive content that get shared a lot. This quiz was a great way to share information on something important to everyone’s lifestyle and market the brand in a way that was not pushy.
(8) Puma and Refinery29: The 30-Day Challenge That Will Transform Your Body
Puma published a piece of sponsored content titled “The 30-Day Challenge That Will Transform Your Body” in Refinery29. The article demonstrates various forms of exercises through a number of high-quality photographs. And below these photographs, there are links that would give the users the chance to buy the apparel on display. In this way, the brand drives home the point of how intrinsically they are connected to a healthy lifestyle. This again is a great example of how to advertise your brand by adding value to native content.
(9) MasterCard and Mashable: Mobile-Minded
MasterCard sponsored a piece of content on Mashable, titled ‘Mobile-Minded”. It was a graphic- heavy article that described the relationships of users with their phones in today’s age and also our ever-changing relationships with our gadgets. The sponsored post included a large section, at the beginning, that took an exhaustive look at MasterCard’s digital payment system.
(10) Yahoo and Advertising Age: Programmatic and Native: A Perfect Match
Last but definitely not the least, this one is a very interesting instance of native content as this was a native ad served for native providers. Advertising Age, in partnership with Yahoo, lay out how brand marketers can utilize programmatic to achieve success in native. This ad stood out for its great placement and niche.