The market of native advertising platforms is thriving because digital marketing campaigns are moving towards a better user experience while leaving behind traditional ads. Americans spend over seven hours looking at the screen and the biggest media consumer, Filipinos, spend around eleven hours. Thus, it makes sense to seek customer attention on the Internet rather than outside of it. 

Consequently, marketers are actively using digital advertising formats as the market has reached more than $378 billion ad spend in 2020. In 2021 the ad spend from native ads reached $57 billion in the US. 

Digital space is cost-effective, measurable, and flexible. It also allows you to display ads to target users only and easily scale to global rates. At the same time, display ads have become a source of annoyance for many and ad blockers are as popular as ever today. That is where native advertising comes in.

Let’s discuss this unicorn of advertisement and review different types of native ad networks where you can display ads and implement a successful marketing strategy. Let’s discover the 10 top native ad platforms out there. 

What is native advertising and what makes it different?

The native advertisements were designed to match the feel, format, and look of the platforms where they are displayed. Shortly, a native ad is paid content that looks like the website's organic content.

You have probably seen one on Instagram, for example, where an ad looks almost exactly like other posts or videos (while indeed, it is sponsored content). This is what distinguishes them from traditional ads, they don't cause ad fatigue and deliver a seamless experience. 

native ad example

The main benefit of native advertising is how non disruptive it is, compared to banner ads and popups. That's why native advertising has high engagement rates. Ad blockers do not ban native content, users are less annoyed and are actually willing to take a look at native advertising (the conversion rates are 40 higher than with banner ads).native ad format

This is why by the end of 2021 global ad revenue from native advertising will increase by 46% (when compared to 2020). In such realities number of native advertising platforms multiplies every year. 

native advertising trends

When it comes to native advertising CTR - it may vary depending on the niche you advertise in as well as geo and channel (in-app, desktop traffic, mobile web, or CTV). Below are approximate numbers: 

native ads ctr by category

Usually, this format delivers interesting editorial content of promotional nature so that is partly the reason why it is so clickable and attractive.  

native ads effectiveness

4 Native advertising formats to pay attention to in 2022

There are different types of native online advertising that you can find on the best native advertising platforms: 

Content recommendations (widgets)

At the end of the page or on the side panel, you can see content recommendations that can match what you are reading right now or what you have searched for. Not all recommendations are ads though - sometimes publishers just create internal links. If it leads you to another website, it will be considered to be an ad. Do internal links and native ads differ in how they look? Not really. Some publishers prefer to add “promo” to the native advertising but otherwise, they look exactly the same. 

Promoted listings are a type of native advertising which is mostly available on eCommerce websites and on Google recommendations. When you search for some products, you may see that content appears as promoted items at the very beginning of the list. 

You have probably seen native content on Google search results: when you search for something, the first two or three results will be promoted. They have a title, link, and description like other results but have a small ad tag within. This way Google combines search and native advertising (Google AdSense offers search and native advertising). As well, Yahoo Gemini (or Oath Native ad platform) is an option that offers search and native advertising.

In feed social media ads

It is probably the most well-known native format used to form purchase intent among social media users. These can be placed right among editorial content in social feeds. The social media native ad fully copies the format of the social network - posts and stories on Instagram, tweets on Twitter, or tiktoks on TikTok.

This is the 4th most popular way for users to discover new products and small businesses especially. 

3 Types of programmatic native advertising platforms

So how do you get your native ads to show up on eCommerce websites, social media, or news outlets? Luckily, there is no need to hit them up individually to ask for promo and negotiate the terms. Programmatic advertising platforms do everything for you.

Programmatic advertising means that the machine handles the connection between advertisers and publishers in real time through bidding. With such programmatic platforms, a publisher defines places where the ad is located and an advertiser uploads creative and defines their target audience.

You can learn more about the ad placement process but for now, you should know that there are three types of best native ad platforms to manage this interaction:

Demand-side platform

Demand-side platform or DPS for short is the native platform for advertisers where they can manage native advertising campaigns. Advertisers upload their creative, define their target audience, capping frequency, whitelist or blacklist of publishers (when needed), etc., and then the software takes care of the rest.

The DPS automatically finds a suitable publisher’s website (according to the user characteristics that match ad campaign criteria).

The supply-side platform

The supply-side platform or SSP is like DPS but for publishers. Publishers can open native ad space, set minimal prices for it, and connect their website to numerous ad exchanges, DPSs, etc. On SSP a website/app owner specifies which native ad format they want to serve on their platform in which sizes, and what is a minimal price they allow per impression (floor price). 

Ad exchange

 It is a place that connects DSPs and SSPs. A native exchange is almost similar to network in terms of functions (you can find what are ad networks in the article). If you specifically search for a native network, check the list of the best native ad networks and how to choose them. It is an independent platform that connects top advertisers and publishers who are interested in native advertising.

Ad exchanges can also support various native formats and offer different functionalities specifically for native campaigns optimization. 

Making a review of the top native advertising platforms in 2022

Native advertising platforms can drive results for both top publishers and advertisers. Even though there are plenty of choices, users usually go for more renowned platforms like Google AdSense, Facebook, or Verizon media native option. We have found the 11 best native advertising platforms that are quickly catching up in terms of native capabilities.

The overall pricing (or standard cost of the campaign) will be dependent on the pricing model, product features, campaign geo, and so on.

The important thing is, programmatic advertising platforms can effectively compete with top players in terms of traffic quality and prices. 

Top native advertising platforms

Native Platform Specifics/proprietary features Reach Ad formats Top websites
SmartyAds Full-stack ecosystem supporting native campaigns: DSP, SSP, Ad Exchange 1.5 billion uniques monthly impressions In feed native advertising, mobile web native, in-app native, custom native ads, recommendation widgets  Best in-app, mobile, desktop, CTV publishers, including Xiaomi, Meitu, AdInMo, Reface, KaiOS, etc.
Taboola Taboola Feed 1.4 billion unique users per month In feed ads, in the article, video, and recommended widget NBC News, Business Insider, Bloomberg, CBS News, and Fox News, Sky News
Nativo Native IQ 600 brands and 400 publishers Native article, native display, native video, stories Reuters, Coindesk, Time
Outbrain Very strict publisher filtering, only publishers with a minimum of one million visits allowed 1.3 billion people worldwide (from 55+ countries) In feed native advertising and in article for video ads Hearst, Men’s Health, BBC, The Washington Post, Daily Telegraph, Business Insider, Asia Pacific
TripleLift Computer vision for good-looking natives on any platform 31,000 websites In article, in feed native ads, carousel ads, and video ads BuzzFeed, USA Today, CNN, eBay, BBC
Adyoulike AI-powered semantic and sentiment targeting 200M unique visitors per month Native stories, carousels, social Rolling Stone, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Vogue
Sharethrough Dynamic captions, creative analysis with improvement suggestions 350 billion monthly impressions In feed native advertising, native display, recommended content New York Post, CNN, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Cnet, Forbes
Engageya Focuses on non-English speaking users 40 billion monthly impressions Recommendation widget, native video, stories Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Haberler, CNN Greece
Revcontent Ecosystem for both buyers and sellers 80mm – 500mm impressions daily Recommended content widgets, in the article Forbes, Los Angeles Times, Nasdaq
MGID Selective bidding 50M unique visitors monthly Video, header content, sidebar widgets International Business Times, MSN, The Week, Weather Channel, Newsweek, HITC, Inquisitr, Wall Street Journal, Weather Channel
Yahoo Gemini Data import from Google Ads, Excell, 50% of traffic from USA, UK, France 60 billion unique impressions monthly Image ad, video, app install ad, carousel ad, Yahoo mail ad, Moments ad ABC News, Apple News, ESPN, MSN

SmartyAds (full-stack ecosystem)

Solutions of SmartyAds fall within lists of best CPM ad networks, best video ad networks, and native advertising platforms as well. It’s a full-stack solution offering a DPS with high-quality traffic for advertisers and an SSP to monetize page views for publishers. They are the only option offering full-stack infrastructure for both buyers and sellers (includes ad platform for advertisers, publishers, and the ad exchange).

SmartyAds DSP. The DSP allows advertisers to run high-quality native advertising campaigns on numerous channels, across different locations, formats, and business verticals. Due to the high number of publishers on DSP and a variety of native ad formats, you can reach all the target users you need on a desktop or mobile device.

Partnerships with Pubmatic, Smaato, AdColony, InMobi, and Cheetah Mobile strengthen their capacities and create more opportunities to elevate your brand awareness. It is easy to create your first campaign on SmartyAds DSP.

What's particular about SmartyAds DSP is that they have valuable proprietary optimization mechanisms that always keep the bid price optimal and effective for advertisers. Aside from this, they have CPM optimizing feature, click booster, and optimization rules according to which the system will select sources (configured customly by advertisers). 

Core features of SmartyAds DPS for native advertising:

  • A wide selection of native formats and the highest traffic quality
  • Lots of campaign creation and customization options
  • Absolute top quality placements and advanced targeting options
  • Robust campaign analytics (variety of campaign performance metrics)
  • Premium websites, applications (inventory for mobile web, apps, desktop, CTV), and different operating system (os versions)
  • Ad performance measurement with third party tags
  • Campaign optimization tools like CPM optimizer, click booster, etc.

SmartyAds SSP. SmartyAds SSP allows publishers to monetize their traffic through native campaigns that don’t interrupt the viewer's experience and bring value to the website visitors. This platform gives them more control over native ad display and full transparency.

With SmartyAds SSP publishers boost monetization outcomes and configure how they want to display the ads.

Publishers can also opt for direct deals with premium advertisers and set optimal prices for video, native ads, and other ad placements. With SmartyAds SSP publishers are free to set as many requirements to future ad campaigns as they want: sizes, resolutions, types, minimum price, etc. 

Core features of SmartyAds SSP:

  • Opportunity to serve a wide selection of native advertising formats in different sizes and resolutions 
  • Great campaign reporting options
  • Header-bidding
  • Complete control over monetization campaigns: filtering, floor price, (also creative size selection,  and other digital properties of the campaign).
  • Tools to enhance revenue streams
  • The assistance of the personal account manager

Taboola

Taboola was almost the first self service ad network to introduce native advertising and it has been thriving since then. Taboola partners with many publishers worldwide. This content discovery platform has partnerships with premium publishers like USA Today, NBC, Business Insider, Fox, etc. Taboola reaches around 1.4 billion unique monthly users.

The targeting options that Taboola offers span to location, device, operating system, etc.

Advertisers can enjoy a premium publisher market, audiences of 500 million daily active users, robust targeting options, boosted page views, audience segmentation, and data optimization. You can also see data from third parties to understand your users better, target look like audiences, and have an overall better viewer's experience.

What's more worth mentioning - one of the most interesting features of Taboola content discovery platform is its Taboola Feed. Publishers can add it to their website and the user will get a personalized feed of branded content. For website visitors, it works as an endless Facebook feed with interesting and diverse editorial and sponsored content. 

Core product features of this native advertising platform:

  • Access to premium publishers and premium sites
  • Strong targeting options for native campaigns 
  • Opportunity to get ad placements on the best publisher's content and options to fully control your campaigns
  • Taboola Feed
  • Opportunity to target people across geos and with non-obstructive native formats (including in feed ads)
  • Budget-friendly lead generation leverages
  • Precise campaign performance measurement
  • Specialization in first-tier countries like UK, US, Japan, France

Nativo

Nativo is one of the best native ads networks aiming to help brands tell their story in a meaningful way and facilitate publishers’ revenue growth through advertisement with powerful tools and formats. As the name hints, the platform specializes in native ad content. The company also collaborates with the best native advertising networks.

Nativo has accumulated over 600 brands and 400 publishers, what's particular - 75% of the ads they serve do not rely on cookies.

The native network endorses native articles the most and offers a couple of unique features for advertisers, namely cookie-free ad delivery and Native IQ. Since many users clear their cookies often or decline cookies while visiting the website, the trend will only continue, considering how conscious users are about sharing their information.

Nativo native network delivers custom native ads no matter whether there are cookies or not. Their Native IQ is your best friend when it comes to evaluating your running ad campaigns and those of your competitors. 

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • 600 brands and 400 publishers
  • Cookie-free custom native ads delivery
  • Deep campaign analysis to optimize your running ad campaigns  
  • Partnership with native advertising networks  
  • Header-bidding
  • Optimization tools for publishers that ensure higher revenue
  • Traffic estimations for successful campaigns  

Outbrain

Outbrain native ad network has been on the market for 15 years now and they surely know how to work with native advertising. Publishers that do not have a million visits per month can not sign up for the native advertising platform so you have to understand how high-quality their publishers are.

Outbrain platform delivers 1.8 billion daily page views and reaches 1.3 billion people from 55 countries worldwide.

As well, Outbrain generates 9 billion conversions each ear and delivers 290 million native stories to people each month. 

They work with CNN, MSN, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc. As a result, the reach of this ad network is 1,3 billion users worldwide and provides a fair pricing per click. Their premium publishers are their main strength as well as a feature with lookalike audiences creation. Outbrain can be the right choice for those advertisers who look for premium traffic.

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • Impressive outreach with many leading niches and top publishers on the open web
  • Diverse targeting options, including lookalike audiences
  • Strict quality policy for both ads and publishers to ensure best user experience
  • Numerous targeting options (geo targeting, device type, operating system, browsers, interests, advanced audience targeting, retargeting (custom audiences))
  • Analysis and custom recommendations for improvement of your creatives (so that you can make ad layout optimization)

TripleLift

TripleLift is one of those native advertising platforms that aim to deliver ads to the users in the right way, on the right channel, and at the right time. It’s one of the best native ads platforms that have strict quality guidelines for publishers and works with top companies like BuzzFeed, eBay, and BBC. 

This native ad platform has a strong feature for native ads specifically - computer vision. The native advertising platform analyzes advertisers’ creatives for the main elements that should always come up. In such a way, it makes sure that the essential message of your campaign will never be cropped out, no matter on what platform the ad is served.

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • Many native formats (in article, in the feed, and videos, and increasingly popular format like carousel) all units are seamlessly integrated into web pages.
  • Placing ads is cost-effective thanks to the optimized bidding algorithm 
  • No requirement for minimum traffic (thus you can find publishers with 10 million visitors here as well as those only with 500 thousand visitors)
  • Real-time templating for advertiser’s creative components
  • Real-time insights about the user experience

Adyoulike

Adyoulike is a leading native advertising platform in Europe and it is also the right choice if you look for premium publishes. After 10 years on the market, they won over big players and publishers of high standards like Rolling Stone, Bloomberg, AOL., The Guardian, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. 

Their unique features are native stories format that has become so popular among the users as it is advanced advertising technology.

Artificial intelligence helps with semantic targeting: it looks for topics, semantics, and feelings to deliver ads with contextual relevance helping you reach your marketing goals, boost page views and reduce the cost per click.

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • 50 DSPs connected for higher fill rates
  • 200 million unique visitors
  • Top tier traffic and traffic from other countries
  • Platform works based on AI-powered targeting options
  • Direct relationships with publishers and networks 
  • Defining semantic context for native ads
  • AI recognition of keywords in editorial contents

Sharethrough

Sharethrough is an omnichannel and omni-format native advertising platform with powerful technology. They offer dynamic captions, analysis of the creative and recommendations for improvement, content discovery tools, and automatic creative matching to the publisher’s website.

Their SmartSuite will also test and choose the best floor for placements and connect publishers with the highest-paying advertisers. Publishers and advertisers this way can rest assured that they reach desired outcomes. As a result, this platform won top-quality websites as their clients: New York Post, CNN, Rolling Stone, Forbes, etc. 

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • Native ads analysis
  • Numerous ad formats to attract potential customers
  • Provides experts in setting up, monitoring, and troubleshooting for better ad campaign results
  • Automatically optimized bidding algorithm (maximum and minimum bid) so that it gets easier to compete for impression with other advertisers
  • Targeting is available based on this and first-party data. 

Engageya

Engageya is a digital web content engagement solution and native advertisements platform that focuses on non-English speaking users. Like other platforms, this ad network has a unique network of partnerships. It has already reached 40 unique billion monthly impressions and 5,000 publishers, the vast majority of those are represented by Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Haber Turk, Sporx, and CNN Greece among them. 

Publishers can add Engageya customizable and zero-maintenance widgets with recommendations and, consequently, native ads and turn them into an instant stream of revenue. They can fully manage their ad inventory and access as well.

Advertisers can fully enjoy localized campaigns on emerging markets. They have geo targeting, their content appears on widgets, and they use real-time statistics. The native advertising platform has won over such big clients as Unilever, Microsoft, Vodafone, etc.

Core features of this platform for native advertising:

  • Maintenance-free widget
  • Vertical targeting
  • Various ad types supported (in different resolutions) 
  • Leading ad verticals
  • Focuses on non-English speaking markets
  • More control over ad campaigns and ad formats (ad performance measurement)

Revcontent

Revcontent is an emerging native advertising network that still offers close attention to both advertisers and publishers giving them more control. At the same time, this native ad network filters out low-quality websites efficiently to avoid questionable inventory.

Publishers can enjoy increased page views, consistent and predictable ad revenue, and better revenue (the self service platform promises 80% more revenue than its competitors). The ad network also pays extra attention to the user experience to make sure that your website is not disturbed by native advertising.

With native advertising platforms like Revcontent advertisers get such benefits as no dependency on cookies for targeting. Plus, the platform offers automatic A/B testing and brand safety. Versatile analytics tools have a lot to offer as well. 

Core features of this platform for native advertising:

  • Fair relationship with both advertisers and publishers
  • Protection from low-quality websites
  • Native formats that maximize engagement of potential customers (interactive included)
  • It has a direct deals feature for premium users
  • Ad fraud protection and ad revenue maximization features
  • Header bidding

MGID

MGID is one of the first self service native advertisements platforms. It also can be positioned as a mobile advertising platform as it supports mobile native advertising. It’s a great option catering to publishers and top advertisers worldwide.

MGID's traffic spans (200+ countries) but its strongest presence is in Europe. Like other good native ad networks, the platform offers different types of native ads: native videos, native widgets, smart widgets (ads that appear when it is relevant to the user), and in-content impact widgets. Advertisers can also gain access to precise targeting, content discovery tools, and deep analytics for increasing page views.

The main great feature of this native platform is that it is very friendly towards publishers and affiliate marketers. There are less strict policies about your monthly viewership which allows small websites to gain their first advertisers as effortlessly as big brands do.

Core features of this native advertising technology:

  • Smart and in-content impact widgets and open web inventory
  • Good for affiliate marketers (and it positively distinguishes this option among other platforms in the market)
  • Selective bidding
  • Numerous formats of ads are available (for mobile devices included)
  • Geo and carrier targeting, dynamic retargeting
  • Artificial intelligence-based programmatic optimization

Yahoo Gemini

Yahoo Gemini is a native advertising platform that is positioned as an ad network that specializes in both search and native kinds of traffic. Monthly, it gets around 60 billion ad impressions that come from premium publishers and their exclusive inventory. In addition to this Yahoo Gemini has a broad network of partners and direct publishers.

The reach of the platform is 2 million daily impressions, as well it has 1 billion monthly available active users. All this translates into 165 billion intent signals per day.

This native advertising platform features a variety of native formats that can work equally well in different environments including mobile. Additionally, they are the only platform that supports importing the data from Google ads or from Excell files. When you create your first campaign and configure targeting, the system will automatically notify you what traffic volumes you can expect with such configurations. 

Core features of this native advertising platform:

  • Native advertising formats for all environments (that can raise purchase intent, online sales, or promote an app)
  • A plethora of targeting options 
  • Automatic traffic estimation
  • Google Ads/Excell data import for more precise targeting 
  • A broad network of publishing partners
  • Robust analytics of the campaigns in real-time

Summing it up

There are many exciting options for native advertising platforms beyond Google AdSense, Facebook, or let's say Verizon media native network. These native advertising options are good ones, however, independent native ad networks help advertisers to reach even more high-quality publishers and elevate brand awareness.

A good native advertising platform can elevate digital marketing campaigns while increasing ad performance, also they will help you to find exclusive inventory, premium websites, and the finest traffic. SmartyAds is one of the top choices when it comes to native ad networks, create your first campaign with us! 

Connect to numerous publishers and serve ads with AI-powered campaigns and omnichannel presence on SmartyAds DSP

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
October 2021