Material in an online publication, which resembles the publication's editorial content but is paid for by an advertiser and intended to promote the advertiser's product, is called native advertising. Be it an article or video, native advertising is produced by a marketer 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 word "native" refers to this coherence of the content with the other media that appears on the platform, and since the product and content are merged, the legal status of native advertising is kind of uncertain. Hence, a clear disclosure is deemed necessary when employing native marketing strategy to protect the consumer from being deceived and to assist audiences in distinguishing between sponsored and regular content.
As usual, guidelines and standards are recommended, such as labeling such ads as “Advertisement”, “Ad”, “Promoted”, “Sponsored”, “Featured Partner”, or “Suggested Post” in subtitles, corners, or the bottoms, and there is a widespread tendency in such measures to mention the brand name of the sponsor, as in “Promoted by [brand]”, “Sponsored by [brand]”, or “Presented by [brand]”, which can vary drastically depending of the publisher.
Four years ago, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) already published six different categories for differentiating types of native advertisements, which are worth to list for you again, comprising of:
1. In-Feed Ad Units, which are located within the website’s normal content feed, meaning they appear as if the content may have been written by or in partnership with the publisher’s team to match the surrounding stories. The category rose to popularity through sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed's sponsored articles since they were extremely effective, but started the whole controversy regarding the blur distinction between native and content marketing.
2. Search Ads, which are generally found above or below the organic search results or in favorable position, having been sold to advertisers with a guarantee for optimal placement on the search engine page. They as well usually possess an identical appearance as other results on the page with the exception of disclosure aspects.
3. Recommendation Widgets are ads that are part of the content of the site, but do not tend to appear in like manner to the content of the editorial feed. Typically delivered through a widget, recommendation ads are generally recognizable by words which imply external reference, suggestions, and tangentially related topics. "You might also like"; "You might like"; “Elsewhere from around the web"; "From around the web"; "You may have missed", or "Recommended for you" typically characterize these units.
4. Promoted Listings are usually featured on websites that are not content based and presented in identical fashion with the products or services offered on the given site. Similarly justified as search ads, sponsored products are considered native to the experience in much the same way as search ads.
5. Furthermore, there are In-Ads that fit in a standard IAB container found outside the feed, containing "...contextually relevant content within the ad, links to an offsite page, has been sold with a guaranteed placement, and is measured on brand metrics such as interaction and brand lift."
6. Last but not least, there is IAB’s category “Custom / Can't be Contained” which takes up all those ads that do not conform to any of the other content categories.