For a long time, Google AdSense and Facebook have been the dominant ad platforms for many businesses. Most businesses flock to these networks because they can reach their target customers and drive the kind of traffic they need. However, these platforms are very expensive. With these platforms, advertisers and publishers lost sight of cheaper but equally effective options for their native advertising needs.
With native ads, you can expand your market reach and target your specific audience, thereby staying ahead of the competition.
Many people are turning to native ad networks to meet their business's advertising needs. According to Statista, the spendings on native ads in the U.S. has increased from $35.24 billion in 2018 to $52.75 billion in 2020. The figures illustrate the fact that more people switch from social media to native ads networks sooner than later.
Native advertising is key to the success of your marketing strategy. It has many advantages and is a cost-effective way of reaching potential customers. If all these seem strange to you, it may mean you need to try native ads now.
In this article, you will explore the native advertising world and discover the best native ad networks you can choose to achieve your marketing objectives and meet your desired goals.
What are the native ad networks?
One question is likely to already be running in your mind, "what are ad networks?" Here is your answer: A native advertising platform is one technology that allows an advertiser to serve advertisements that blend seamlessly with a website's organic content. By blending ads to an organic website seamlessly, a native advertising platform serves ads as less intrusive. Most often, the websites' visitors will go through the web content without noticing there was an ad.
You are most likely to see native ads presented as content recommendations, in-feed advertisements on social media, and promoted search engine listings. Ad agencies and affiliate marketers use native ads on streaming services, social media platforms, news sites, and many more.
Native advertising also constitutes a major part of a publisher's content marketing strategy. Native ads are also now becoming popular ad formats for publishers and advertisers.
When advertisers bind their native advertising strategy with a Demand Side Platform (DSP), it allows them to buy space for web advertising. DSPs belong to the Programmatic Advertising ecosystem, which makes a large part of the ad process automation.
Advantages of native ads over display ads
Native advertising is not irritating and is characterized by increased CTRs across many business verticals (see picture below). Aside from this native ads have lots to offer for both publishers and advertisers.
- It does not disrupt as much as display ads do
Native ads have better integration with content and are less noticeable. This makes them less disruptive. A website visitor's user experience doesn't have to change because of an ad, and this is one feature of native ads that gives it a high score.
- Content viewers, advertisers, and publishers all benefit from native ads
Many people love native advertisements for various reasons. Content viewers love them because a native ads' format makes them enjoy the content's flow even better. Advertisers also find the native ad format useful because it generates a higher user engagement rate for them. If advertisers have higher users' engagement, their cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) also increases, leading to higher ad revenues for publishers with increased demand for native inventory.
- You can use native ad on any platform
Native ads are universal and supported by almost any ad platform. Hence, publishers and advertisers can serve ads on any device or social media platform.
- Native advertisements boost sponsorships
With sponsorship, brands can co-present and advertise themselves via a publisher's content. Hence, sponsorships represent another path for native ads to reach target markets without reducing user experience.
Other advantages of using native ads include:
- It leads to useful content, which generates more trust among users than traditional advertising does.
- Most native ads contain engaging and relevant content and are more likely to pique interest among potential customers.
- The Click-through-rate (CTR) for native display ads is much higher than typical display advertisements.
Advantages of independent native ad platforms
Although Google Ads and Facebook will lead the target audience to the right websites or social media platforms, they may not represent the best option for you. Hence, you should consider alternatives.
A reason why you should consider alternatives is the high cost of advertising on Google AdSense and Facebook. On average, the cost per click in Adwords is $0.63 for display and $2.69 for search across all industries. Facebook's average cost per click for adverts is $1.72. These figures will keep rising as these platforms are borderline monopolists on the advertising market.
Besides their high advertising costs, Google and Facebook place strict restrictions on advertisers. Such restrictions make it difficult for some businesses to utilize these channels effectively in reaching their target market.
With alternative programmatic native advertising platforms, you will face fewer restrictions and engage your target customers at more affordable rates.
Native ads and programmatic advertising
Native advertising and programmatic advertising have a great connection. However, programmatic advertising is much broader. Programmatic advertising is an automated process of buying and selling web traffic for advertising purposes. Hence, instead of searching for website owners interested in displaying ad on their sites, advertisers connect to a programmatic ad network or Google display network or ad exchange. The ad exchange will match advertisers and publishers, they let publishers sell and advertisers buy inventory programmatically.
What is the difference between ad network and ad exchange?
The ad network vs ad exchange debate confuses many people. They are different and not the same thing. A native ads network collects ad inventory from publishers and sells it to advertisers. Hence, it is an aggregator and acts as an intermediary between publishers and advertisers. On the other hand, an ad exchange is a digital marketplace where publishers and adverts meet and sell ad inventory directly without intermediaries.
Things you should consider before choosing native advertising networks
When choosing a native ads platform for your business, you will have many options to choose from. The choice you will make is left to you to decide as you will have to consider multiple factors before settling on the best ad network for your business model. Some of the factors you should contemplate over before settling on a particular platform include:
What targeting options do the native ad network offer?
Today, you will find that ad networks provide users with more advanced targeting options. These targeting options include geo targeting, device, demographic data, income, and so much more. On some native ads platforms, you can also enjoy retargeting features that help you showcase your ads to previous visitors to your website.
A retargeting feature is a valuable option because conversion rates on retargeted traffic can double. Hence, before choosing a native advertising platform, you should get familiar with the various options and then decide the one that best suits your needs.
Does the platform provide run-of-network options?
Many native ad networks allow their customers to place ads on random websites available on their inventory list. This option has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that a business's adverts may be displayed on high-quality or relevant sites. However, this is not always the case if you choose a great native ad platform. The run-of-network option can prove efficient in testing various websites to see those that help you reach your business's branding and traffic objectives.
- Is the ad network's niche publishers relevant to your target audience?
Large native ad platforms work with multiple publishers. Therefore, before considering an ad network, you should revise the publishers on its inventory to see if they appeal to your target customers. If they don't, there is no need to run ads with such a network as your desired demographic may never see them.
- What devices and environments does it support?
Today, you can advertise across several platforms, channels, and devices. The world is a digital place, and billions of people have access to several kinds of devices to access the internet. To maximize native ads better, you should research the kind of devices your audience is most likely to use and compare those that your network supports. Make sure native ads network allows placing ads on the devices and browsers used by your audience.
- What is the quality of ads and what formats are supported?
Ensure the native ads network is trustworthy and vets adverts before you publish on your site. Some fraudsters can use misleading ads that take interested viewers to fake content landing pages. Same way vetting should be here for supply IAB (inventory authorization standards, etc).
- Does the pricing model meet your needs?
Check to see that the ad network's pricing model is one that you are comfortable with.
- Is the setup process straightforward?
Certain ad networks require publishers to set up their websites manually. Hence, if a native ads publisher has five websites, they need to set all of them up. All the sites will also require the ad network's approval. You need to check for such requirements so that you don't run foul of them.
There are several other factors you need to consider before settling on a particular ad network. When you test new networks, you invest your time and money in them. Hence, you should discover the best ad network suitable for your business before going on. There are many native advertising networks you can choose from. Thus, if you are not getting the desired results from one, you can switch to another.
Best native advertising companies to choose from
If you are willing to try out native advertising, you should check out the following native ads networks: Let's start comparing best native advertising platforms Here is a table comparing the top native advertising companies:
Best native ads platforms
|Native ad network||Min traffic required||Pricing model||CPM and RPM rate||Min payout||Payment terms||Ad formats|
|SmartyAds||About 300,000 monthly views||CPM||$10-$25 and above for tier 1 traffic||$50||Net60||Rewarded videos, interstitials, native ads, banners, and other formats|
|Facebook audience network||About 5 million monthly views||CPM||It varies up to $3||$100||Net21||Display, text, in-feed, in-article, matched content ads, video ads, games ads, mobile ads|
|Taboola||About 5 million monthly views||CPC||Approximately $2||$100||Net45||In-feed, In-article, video, and recommended widget|
|Outbrain||About 5 million monthly views||CPC and CPM||$0.37-$3 and $0.370-$1.12||$50||Net60 or Net90||In-feed and In-article for video and display ads|
|Revcontent||About 5 million monthly views||CPM and CPC||It varies up to $5||$50||Net30||Recommended content widgets, In-feed, In-article|
|MGID||About 300+ unique visitors monthly (or 90,000 visitors monthly)||CPM, CPC, Revshare||About $3||$100||Net30||Video, header content, sidebar widgets|
|Google Adsense||No||CPM and CPC||From $0.71||$100||Net30||Display, text, in-feed, in-article, matched content ads, video ads, games ads, mobile ads|
|Yahoo Gemini||About 10,000 monthly views||CPC and CPM||$2-$3||$250||Net30||Image ads, video ads, app install ads, carousel ads, yahoo mail ads, moments ads|
|AdCash||No requirements||CPM||$1-$3.5||$25||Net30||Pop-under ads, interstitial ads, in-page push, native display ads, banner ads|
|EvaDav||No||CPC and CPM||$0.16-$2.77||$100||Net7||Native ads, banners, push notifications, in-page ads, popunders|
If you need a high-quality native ad network, you should think no further than SmartyAds, a top pick for the best CPM ad network. This native ad platform offers its demand and supply partners more than one ad network. Instead, it goes further to offer its clients a wholesome full-stack of rich programmatic solutions. Within eight years, SmartyAds built a complete programmatic infrastructure incorporating DSP, SSP, white-label, and Ad Exchange platforms. Publishers and advertisers can benefit from the wholesome offering Smartyads provides. With this full-stack, they have immediate access to additional platforms and tools for media buying and monetization.
SmartyAds' Supply-Side Platform (SSP)
SmartyAds' Supply-Side Platform (SSP) offers unparalleled opportunities for app developers and web publishers who want to maximize advertising revenues directly. It guarantees publishers full transparency and complete control over ad inventory at every level. You can also sell your ad space to premium buyers at private marketplaces, monetize unsold inventory via real-time bidding (RTB) auctions, and enjoy competitive pricing with programmatic direct.
SmartyAds SSP publisher platform has the following core features:
- Highest fill rates: SmartyAds native ads for publishers platform works with top-rated traffic sources from major countries like the USA, UK, Israel, Germany, India, and Russia. Therefore it guarantees high fill rates across all verticals.
- Format and environment options: With SmartyAds SSP, any native advertising publishers can choose to serve video ad units suitable for every environment of theirs.
- Maximized demand: With SmartyAds SSP's RTB connection and competition-maximizing technologies like header bidding, publishers will always connect to premium advertisers.
- Premium video demand: Advertisers can monetize premium and exclusive video inventory via the private marketplace and direct programmatic deals. Hence, publishers can sell for a higher price.
- Publisher controls: SmartyAds' enhanced controls make it possible for publishers to customize future ad campaigns that you will serve: ad sizes, resolutions, types, minimum price, and much more.
SmartyAds Demand-Side Platform (DSP)
SmartyAds Demand-Side Platform (DSP) provides agencies, advertisers, and media-buyers with an omnichannel programmatic suite for running ad campaigns that are targeted, forward-thinking, highly engaging, and turn your audience into customers in real-time.
SmartyAds DSP's award-winning omnichannel media-buying technology is deeply integrated with the world's best supply partners like Pubmatic, Smaato, AdColony, InMobi, Cheetah Mobile, and many other trusted ad networks. Advertisers can connect directly to the highest quality supply sources using SmartyAds SSP.
The platform also helps advertisers run AI-powered programmatic advertising campaigns across several channels, geographical regions, formats, and business verticals. Advertisers can do all of these with a minimum budget but get a maximum return on investment through narrow targeting and programmatic optimization. With the platform, advertisers get thrice a higher conversion, user acquisition, and engagement. SmartyAds DSP's core features include:
- It is completely safe for your brand: SmartyAds never displays ads near inappropriate content. Also, the traffic consists only of viewable impressions due to the GeoEdge, Forensiq, and manual traffic quality revision.
- It is cost-effective and transparent: This native advertising network does not include hidden charges. You just need to prepay a minimum of $1000 for the advert campaigns.
- Your ads will have a global reach: SmartyAds connects with premium publishers through RTB. It also offers high-volume premium direct and PMP deals with publishers.
- You can reach various niches: SmartyAds delivers millions of impressions daily and especially focuses on niches like technology and computing, arts and entertainment, health and fitness, business, news, education, etc.
- The video formats are of high quality: With SmartyAds, advertisers can choose from various ad video formats that enhance user experience, e.g., native video, CTV, rich media, in-banner videos, etc.
SmartyAds' specifics include:
- Model: CPM
- Reporting: in real-time
- Countries platforms work with: worldwide
- SSP payment method: NET 60 basis
- Minimum traffic requirement for SSP: ~5 million page views per month.
Facebook Audience Network
This platform is one of the best video ad networks for publishers. With this network, when a user clicks on banner ads located on a publisher's inventory, the native ads publisher will receive a specified fraction of income from Facebook. In addition, advertisers on Facebook Audience Network can stand out because the platform's promotional ads are very noticeable.
With Facebook Audience Network, you enjoy the following benefits:
- It is affordable: Running video ads on the network is cheaper than when you place them directly on Facebook. Hence, for advertisers, it belongs to the class of affordable video ad networks. The average CPC goes down gradually, allowing you to buy more inventory and increase reach.
- It accommodates pre-roll: Facebook Audience Network is a good Pre-roll video advertising network that serves in-stream videos that publishers can monetize their content with.
- It focuses on mobile advertising: FAN is one of the video ad networks with a focus on mobile environments. Hence, it supports image and video ads.
- It has a wide reach: With FAN, advertisers are guaranteed to get a great reach as over 1 billion users get to see ads monthly.
- It is a quality and reputable brand: FAN does not acquire traffic and first-party data from party vendors. Also, it doesn't buy traffic on ad exchanges. Instead, it works with leading publishers and has a great reputation worldwide.
- Your ads get to your audience: With FAN, advertisers can make sure their ads reach only their targeted demographics as the network uses Facebook's targeting system.
Facebook Audience Network's specifics:
- Model: CPM
- Reporting: in real-time
- Countries platforms work with: worldwide
- SSP payment method: NET 21 basis
- Minimum traffic requirement for SSP: ~5 million page views monthly.
This advertising platform is among those that redefined the native ad space. It has been in existence since 2007 and has gained much prominence since then. So if you want your branded content to get displayed on NBC, AOL, MSN, USA Today, Business Insider, etc., Taboola is one of the best native advertising platforms for this purpose.
At least half of the platform's network traffic is from top-tier countries, making it a definitive high-quality traffic source.
- Video ad serving. Besides serving regular adverts and content suggestions, Taboola brokers some Google traffic and serves video ads.
- Quality. This network has high quality traffic. However, the drawbacks for the network are its tough entry barrier. The network doesn't accept websites that have monthly traffic that is lower than 500,000 per month. Taboola also has strict content policies and focus majorly on the publishers' and consumers' experience.
- Good targeting. When it comes to targeting, Taboola targets by location, device type, and operating system. It also allows you to block publishers if they don't match your offers. When it comes to audience targeting, you can either retarget your audience or target a specific audience.
- Budget-friendly. In terms of CPC settings, you have to set your budgets carefully because of Taboola's high-quality traffic and top-tier GEOs. The native advertising network gives users recommendations for default values, which you can use while gathering data.
With Taboola, publishers can add negative keywords to prevent adverts or content with certain headlines from appearing on the publisher's website. The Taboola Choice feature also allows viewers to hide ads they don't like.
With Taboola, you get:
- Excellent quality traffic
- Decent targeting
- High CPC rates
- High budgets
- Top tier GEOs
- Low approval rates
- Reach: The network reaches over 1,4 billion unique users monthly.
- Pricing: Users can get started at $10 per day for a self service option.
Like Taboola, Outbrain has been around for quite some time. It was founded in 2006 and is reputed for its high quality. However, for a website to access Outbrain's network, it needs to have a million US visits per month. This requirement puts many websites off though they usually get to negotiate the number.
- Top-quality inventory. Advertisers will have their content appearing on top-quality sites like CNN, The Guardian, Fox News, Mashable, Daily Telegraph, etc. Tier 1 countries like the US, Germany, UK, Japan, and France dominate 50% of Outbrain's traffic.
- Quality policies and standards. Outbrain's high quality and strict policies are not appealing to affiliates. Advertisers and publishers also find the network's approval process strict. You must produce well-crafted ads of high quality to meet the network's standards and approval.
- Varied targeting. Outbrain's targeting uses location, device platform, audience segmentation ( a retargeting tool), and interest targeting, with which advertisers can create sophisticated combinations to reach out to ideal customers.
The network's advantages and features include:
- Sophisticated targeting options
- Highest CPC
- High-quality traffic
- Very strict approval conditions
- Low daily budgets
It is relatively new to the native ads space and tries to balance between being affiliate-friendly and the quality of publishers. Revcontent is quickly gaining reputation and is regarded as the top-growing native ad network. It sets high standards for publishers, which it is very proud of. On its website, it states that it rejects 98% of all its applicant publishers. One of its publishers' requirements is that they must have at least 50,000 monthly visits.
- High CPM rates. When it comes to results, Revcontent claims to generate 20%-40% higher CPM rates than competing native advertising companies due to its innovative monetization technologies and high service standards.
- Diverse business vertical traffic. It also delivers 250 billion content recommendations to US households. The network plays host to various publishers from diverse business verticals worldwide.
- High-profile supply. Some of the publishers on the platform include Forbes, Wayfair, Bank of America, etc.
The platform's other core features and advantages include:
- Premium publishers have the chance to reach a broad selection of direct advisers.
- It has a dedicated support team that is always available.
- Publishers across various GEOs can get premium CPMs.
- Publishers can make their ads more functional and effective with widgets like custom API, native, and non-native.
- There are additional widgets for gaining audience insights.
- It offers desktop and mobile app monetization options.
- Advertisers can use CPC and CPM bidding models.
- Varied targeting options to boost reach.
Like Revcontent, EvaDav is also a relatively new native ad company, but it has set a high benchmark in the ad tech space. It has an easy-to-use interface, which appeals to advertisers and publishers. Besides its appealing user interface, EvaDav also has a high converting push-notification ad format, a predictive behavioral algorithm, and a proprietary anti-fraud system.
If you sign up to the ad platform for your content discovery needs, you will enjoy its traffic source, which has over 600 million impressions per day. It also features almost 100,000 publishers, about 45,000 publishers, and more than 400,000 active campaigns.
EvaDav's core features include:
- It has traffic in 250 Geos and works with any vertical. Hence, it is an excellent partner for affiliate advertisers and Cost Per Action (CPA) campaigns.
- It guarantees quality tier traffic with over a million new subscriptions per month. Hence, your ads will reach hungry traffic sources no matter the location you want to advertise.
- It has various verticals, including dating, gaming, sports, beauty, health, eCommerce, education, and tourism.
- It has sleek campaign creation and targeting options to map your campaign and incorporate the most minute details.
- Campaign approval is fast.
- Advertisers can pay via several options, including PayPal, Skrill, WebMoney, ePayments, Visa, Bank transfer, Payoneer, etc.
- You will have an account manager assigned to you to help kickstart your campaigns and get the most for your money.
With Yahoo Gemini, also known as Verizon Media or Oath Native, you can enjoy search and native advertising in one place. It is the only platform that offers both services in one location. If you post any content through Yahoo Gemini, it will flow through Yahoo's home page and other Yahoo publications like Yahoo Entertainment, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Groups, and many others.
The native ad and search platform also supports multiple ad features like:
- Real time feed
- Dynamic creative
- Tiles, and more
- Comfortable pricing: To begin using Yahoo Gemini, you must have at least $25 in your Yahoo ad account.
- Extensive traffic: Over 50% of the platform's traffic is from the US, France, and the UK.
- Broad reach: More than 500 monthly users.
This network was launched in 2008 and is one of native paid advertising's pioneer platforms. Since its inception, it has spread millions of sites and has subsidiaries that fit certain regional markets. To start your first ad campaign on MGID, you will need a minimum deposit of $100, making it one of the friendliest networks for affiliate marketers.
MGID's traffic flow is about 70 million visits, with most of the traffic coming from the US and Tier 2 countries like India and Vietnam. Therefore, MGID may not be the platform of choice for you if you seek top-tier traffic since Tier 2 countries dominate its traffic.
In terms of targeting, MGID employs the following options to reach your desired audience:
It also has features like:
- Effective retargeting. Advertisers can address users with retargeting on different devices and in different environments.
- Precise campaign scheduling. Advertisers can conveniently schedule when their campaigns start and end.
- Frequency capping: It reduces the number of times someone gets to see the ads.
- Selective bidding: Goog feature for advertisers. It adjusts your bids based on results-driving parameters.
This is a completely transparent self service DSP platform that has been a dominant force in the popunder market since 2007. However, it began to move to less disruptive and intrusive ad formats recently. Hence, in late 2017, it introduced native ads.
If you need a perfect place to begin affiliate marketing, Adcash's online advertising network is highly recommended. It features an easy-to-use platform that helps you to run, analyze, and manage all your ad campaigns in one place. You can also merge all your media-buying activities with the platform because it has links with all the major SSPs and their exclusive publishers.
Great traffic, reach, and formats. In terms of traffic, AdCash gets about ten billion ad requests daily. These ad requests are for various ad formats like a native, popunder, push notifications, display, and interstitials.
- Top tier country traffic. The platform's top GEOs are majorly Tier 1 countries like the US, UK, Germany, and France. The ad network also has unlimited global reach because of its partnership with most of the SSPs. Therefore, you are guaranteed high traffic volumes when you run ads on this platform.
- Comfortable approval process. Before you run ads and campaigns, AdCash's in-house team validates them to ensure they are compliant with company policies. Only ads and campaigns that comply with policies get approved. Approval usually takes about four to five hours.
- Granular targeting. In terms of targeting, AdCash has granular targeting capabilities, which help you customize your ads and reach your desired audience. It utilizes target options like location, SSPs, ISPs and connection type, browser name, device types and OS, user interest, website categories, and zones.
The list of native ad networks can’t be complete without mentioning Google AdSense. It is renowned for offering the best native ads’ performance for international traffic, almost 100% fill for small publishers. These days, it is also regarded as the world's largest and best ad network.
Many publishers struggle with gaining account approval on AdSense. However, if you keep to the platform's policy and webmaster guidelines, you will find it easy. With AdSense, publishers can block ads they don't want to see and change the look and feel of text ads to suit their websites. Publishers can also control the category of ads they want to serve.
AdSense's key features include:
- No traffic requirement for publishers. This makes the platform convenient for small bloggers and big websites alike.
- Minimum payout of $100. The payout is comfortable for publishers.
- Varied Payment options through checks, Western Union, etc.
Despite Google AdSense and Facebook being the leaders when it comes to ad networks, there are other top native advertising companies you can trust to meet your ad needs, whether you are an advertiser or a publisher. From the list of native ad networks you just saw, it gets obvious that each one of the native ads platforms has its unique features that can give the major players a run for their money. Before choosing a platform, ensure you weigh their features and see if they appeal to you and your business or website's needs.
If you want to stay ahead of the game in the advertising world, sign up with SmartyAds SSP as a publisher or SmartyAds DSP as an advertiser to enjoy amazing benefits!
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds