IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) has released (May, 2019) its 2nd report on native advertising (IAB Native Advertising Playbook 2.0).
At GreedyGame, we studied this report at length (10 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes). The report details how the native landscape has evolved from 2013 to 2018. The report is so extensive that we decided to break the report into a 3 part-series for us to do justice to the report.
In this 3 part-series of blogs, we will cover
– Classification of native ad types
This is the second blog in the series. We will cover in this blog the classification of native ad types. If you haven’t read the first part of the series, you can find the link of the blog here.
About IAB?
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is an advertising business organization that develops industry standards, conducts research, and provides legal support for the online advertising industry. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media companies, brands, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.
Principles of native ad classification
There are 3 basic principles that guide IAB’s classification framework:
  1. Capturing array/spectrum of native ads currently floating in the ad-tech market
  2. A common framework for all stakeholders (brand, ad network, publisher and user) to work on for ad price, evaluation criteria, expectation match.
  3. Native ads should progressively move towards the aspiration of engaging with consumers in more ‘native’, organic and more importantly, in non-promotional ways. Above all, focus is on user experience.
As IAB report says “these changes are, overall, evolutionary rather than revolutionary in nature.”
Approaches to Native ad classification
There are 2 approaches to classify all native ads –
1. Basis native ad type
2. Basis native ad parameters
Both approaches are supplementary to each other as ad types are classifications based on some common properties of these ad types (though there can be significant variations among core type examples). Whereas the parameters are identified by IAB to classify native ads. Even different examples of a core ad type can score very different on the parameter scale.
These are more fundamental than native ad types as:
  • Coverage – evaluation parameters can classify all native ads but there are native ads which do not fall in any of the native ad type category
  • Spectrum – while evaluation parameters give a spectrum of classification; ad types give loose collection of different various native ads
  • Consistency – native ads belonging to same native ad type can differ from each other
While in the 1st IAB report, there were 6 core native ad types and 6 evaluation parameters, these have been reduced to 3 core native ad types and 4 evaluation parameters. A brief summary of core ad type change is in the table below.
As for evaluation parameters, the 2 parameters omitted are:
  1. Buying and selling criteria- which is redundant now with growth of native programmatic
  2. Measurement criteria – it was intended to measure native ad emphasis on upper/lower funnel metrics
Native ad parameters
These are 4 parameters devised by IAB to define and classify native ads. These can be understood as the 4 questions a marketer should ask to understand and classify a native ad. These are-
  1. Design – How much the native ad unit matches the surrounding design
  2. Location – whether placement of ad unit is inside/outside content feed
  3. Ad Behaviour – whether ad unit behaves like surrounding (i.e. linking to an on-site story page) or otherwise
  4. Disclosure – how clearly the publisher discloses to consumer that ad unit is not part of editorial content
Though we should note that disclosure is highly emphasized for every native ad now.
Native ad types
The 3 native ad types defined in the report are:
  1. In-feed/ in-content native ads
  2. Content recommendation ads
  3. Branded/ Native content
While the first two types are paid ads to promote/distribute the content, the third type is the paid content itself. Also, all 3 types must include the disclosure that these are paid ads. Any native ad which doesn’t fall under these 3 types can be classified based on evaluation parameters (discussed later).
Now, let’s discuss these types in a little detail.
In-feed/ in-content native ads
What is In-feed/in-content native ad?
While in-feed native ads are placed in article and content feeds, mimicking surrounding site design and aesthetics. In contrast, in-content native ads are placed primarily on article pages, in between paragraphs of content or below the article.
There are 3 types of feeds where native ads usually appear-
Content feeds – include articles, images or video branded/native content; e.g., publisher content sites and news aggregators like CNN and Yahoo
Product feeds – include product, services or app-install branded/native content; e.g., retail sites and app listings like Amazon, Etsy and eBay
Social feeds – include social content, articles, video, stories, images and music branded/native content; e.g., social networking and messaging apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Though, on social feeds, there are no in-content ads.
For Marketers and agencies, understanding and examining different permutations of in-feed ads is important, keeping programmatic growth in mind.
For advertisers, understanding that context of ad should match feed type and location is important. As same ad may work on one feed type but not the other.
For publishers, ensuring that in-feed ad is a fit for the site (e.g., a video ad for a video site) to truly meets aspiration of native ad.
A consumer may stay on the same site or be redirected to another site while clicking on these ads. The content in the native ad can itself be anything from text editorial, video, content recommendations etc.
Content recommendation ads
What are content recommendation ads?
These are type of native ad(article, video, product or webpage) that are displayed alongside other editorial content, ads, and/or paid content. These are typically found below or alongside publisher content, like in a feed or article.
These are also called content discovery ads/ sponsored content ads/ content recommendation widgets.
When a consumer clicks on these ads, he/she is always redirected to an external page/URL or to another of the source publisher’s URLs.
Branded/Native content
Branded/Native content is paid content from a brand which is published in same format as the editorial on a publisher’s site, generally in conjunction with publisher’s content teams themselves. These render on a page, hosted and served by a publisher within its site, like their editorial experience.
The content itself is part of native ad buy and thus is considered as a native ad type.
These are also called brand content/ sponsored content/ custom content.
They are developed by a publisher on behalf of a brand or in collaboration with a brand, or by a third party specialty content marketing agency.
They can be promoted by In-feed or content recommendation ads defined above.
Scheduling, tracking and reporting for branded/native content ads is typically provided by the supplier.
Find link to the original report here.

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