mobile native advertising PubNative

What Is Mobile Native Advertising?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a guest column on HasOffers’ (by Tune) blog titled: “The Issue With Native Advertising on Mobile: It’s a Framework, Not a Format”. In this column, I laid down PubNative’s conceptual foundations by exposing the fundamental issue currently plaguing native advertising on mobile. A few weeks after we officially launched, I would now once again like to explain our vision and go over what native advertising means for us at PubNative.

Native Advertising: Format vs. Framework

Let’s start with the initial assessment that the concept of mobile native advertising is currently flawed for the following two reasons:

  1. Misconceptions. No questions asked, Facebook has been extremely successful with their in-feed app install ads and many messaging and social apps have since then followed their lead in terms of native ad-based monetization. The issue is that these in-feed or in-stream ads have become so successful that they now tend to be used interchangeably (and mistakenly) with the term “native ads”.
  2. Limitations. Most of the solutions for native ad integrations currently offered on the market come in the form of a limited amount of standard, pre-defined formats served via an SDK. Although customizable to a certain extent (colors, fonts, etc.), as such these remain just formats which cannot be fully customized to their publishing space (user experience and user interface).

For us, an ad is native if and when it fits the form (the user interface), the function (the content) as well as the purpose (the user experience) of its publishing estate. This means that native advertising is not a format as such, but a conceptual framework for developers to build their own, custom ad units. Consequently and by definition, a given ad format cannot be described as native or non-native by itself.

This is entirely dependent on the context of its integration.

In-feed ads, as such, are a specific format, just as banners interstitials and video ads. The reason they are usually considered as native is that, when placed within social and messaging apps, they most often fit the criteria mentioned above. Out of context (outside of a feed), and although this might seem obvious, they would not.

This view was recently supported by Steve Payne, head of planning, insight, and research at AOL at the Internet Bureau of Advertising’s (IAB) Content Conference. Although not talking about mobile specifically, his point supports PubNative’s vision: native advertising is in essence context-dependent.

“In-feed isn’t the same as native. You can’t consider in-feed advertising to be native. Is it relevant to the consumer experience? Is it interruptive to their experience? Does it look and feel like the surrounding content?”

Always a matter of context

Conversely, a banner can be native. In the example pictured below, Serbian developer Webelinx integrated native advertising in their match-3 game Sweets Mania. As you can see, the banner has been integrated into the game, into the level selection page. What is specific about this integration is that the banner is hand-held by one of the game’s characters and has been customized to match the game’s overall feel (colors, look…). SweetMania01   SweetMania02This results in an overall feeling of an ad unit belonging to its publishing space, and this is what native advertising is all about.

For more native integration examples as well as sample native code to help you design your own, beautiful custom native ad units, head over to PubNative’s Developer Portal. Our team of UI experts can also assist you in finding and designing the best native integration for your app.

With native advertising, the great thing is that the possibilities end with your imagination – in other words, they are endless.

That’s it. We can’t wait to see your native ads!

For more information don’t hesitate to drop us an email at

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