The Move to Native Ads in 2013: Think Outside the Banner

Tomeeka Farrington
Tomeeka Farrington Principal, Spotlight Communications

Posted on April 3rd 2013

The Move to Native Ads in 2013: Think Outside the Banner

native advertisingAs this year’s newest addition to the marketing jargon handbook, native advertising challenges brands to think differently about both social engagement and advertising, and requires marketers to appeal to prospective customers in unique ways.

What are Native Ads?

Native ads place brand content such as videos, photos and articles directly into a site, such as Facebook Sponsored Stories; Twitter's Promoted Tweets; promoted videos on YouTube, and promoted playlists on Spotify and Rdio.

What do Native Ads look like?

Ultimately, native ads feel less intrusive, increasing the likelihood that users will click on them. How can you identify a native ad? Chances are that some of your favorite brands have been integrated into product placements in TV sponsorships or in “Special Advertising Sections” in print magazines. But it’s just recently that the native ads concept has gained traction within the digital sphere.

Native Ad Product Placement

How can you identify a digital native ad?  Native ads follow the format, style and voice of whatever platform they appear on.

Why are they called ‘Native Ads?’

Native ads coin their name from the fact that they are native to the search experience, while promoted tweets are native to the Twitter experience. The same goes for sponsored stories, as they are native to the Facebook interface.

What type of native advertising is best for me?

Search Engine Marketing: These ads appear alongside search results on search engines.


  • Cost efficient way to reach a target market for all business sizes.
  • Delivers an active, targeted message to potential customers.
  • Most popular medium for locating information.


  • Possible exploitation by businesses that add additional and irrelevant keywords to boost their visibility.

Facebook’s Sponsored Stories: These ads are built around user activity.  For example, when a user posts an Amazon link on Facebook, Amazon pays to show that story to more of a user’s friends, through the Facebook sidebar. The goal of sponsored stories is to get more users to take the same action a friend has, such as “Liking” a Page.


  • Advertisers simply pay to highlight an action that users have already taken on the social network or within a Facebook-connected app.


  • Cannot be used to reach an audience that is not connected to the page or app through a friend.
  • Advertisers do not have any creative control over these Ad types because they are generated from and organic user action.

Twitter’s Promoted Tweets: These are ordinary tweets, purchased by advertisers, who want to reach a wider group of users or spark engagement from their existing followers.  This marketing strategy is one of the quickest ways to build an active community of advocates and influencers for your business.


  • Help you reach more followers likely to be interest in your brand, as well target consumers within a specific geography or with specific interests.
  • Promoted tweet exposure drives stronger message association.


  • Growing backlash of the twitter community, which claims that promoted tweets are counter to the spirit of twitter where every user is considered equal.

So long, traditional advertising!

One thing is for sure— the Native Ad movement is only growing stronger! BIA/Kelsey estimates that social-mobile ad revenues will increase from $500 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2016. Thanks to Native advertising, clunky banner and box Ads are moving towards non-existence. Traditional display advertising such as banners and pop-ups continue to perform poorly due to vastly low public appeal.

Now tell us, which type of Native Ad is best for your business?

(image: native advertising outside the box / shutterstock)

Tomeeka Farrington

Tomeeka Farrington

Principal, Spotlight Communications

Tomeeka Far­ring­ton is prin­ci­pal & founder of Spot­light Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. She has been hailed by The Boston Her­ald as “Boston’s Pub­lic Rela­tions Princess,” awarded the Boston Busi­ness Journal’s pres­ti­gious “40 under 40” award and she was named one of “30 Extra­or­di­nary Bosto­ni­ans” by the Boston Event Guide. Tomeeka fre­quently speaks to groups which have included the fol­low­ing: the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices; Har­vard Uni­ver­sity; the Boston Globe; Hub­Spot; the Ad Club Foun­da­tion; Boston Col­lege; Bran­deis Uni­ver­sity; Tufts Uni­ver­sity; the Mass Bar Asso­ci­a­tion; and UMass Boston.

As prin­ci­pal, Tomeeka spends much of her time trav­el­ing and edu­cat­ing orga­ni­za­tions how to use social media mar­ket­ing tools to help grow their busi­ness. She has launched sev­eral inno­v­a­tive social media cam­paigns for Spotlight’s clients, includ­ing the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Aero­nau­tics, Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices Mater­nal and Child Health Bureau, in Wash­ing­ton, DC and the Prostate Health Edu­ca­tion Net­work (PHEN).

Tomeeka is a 2006 grad­u­ate of the UMass Boston Emerg­ing Lead­ers Pro­gram (ELP), and was appointed by Gov­er­nor Deval Patrick to the Board of the Mass­a­chu­setts Children’s Trust Fund. She holds a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions from Boston Col­lege, and a Mas­ter of Arts in Broad­cast Jour­nal­ism and Pub­lic Affairs from Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

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