Key Points

  • The definition of what, exactly, an in-app native ad is has changed a lot over the past decade. 
  • Now that native ads are enabled in open real-time bidding (OpenRTB) protocols, it is easier to request native ads programmatically.
  • Playwire works with publishers and advertisers to create effective native ads that generate revenue. 

Some advertisers will pay a lot of money for an ad that doesn't feel like a typical ad. The words "in-app native ad" get these advertisers' attention like none other. The reason why is clear: Most people don't love being advertised to, but if they are instead interacting with what feels like content native to your app, they're much more likely to have a positive association with the brand.

Why does that matter for you, the app publisher? Because if you can offer native ads, you can command higher CPMs. But what, exactly native ads are has been under debate, and the definition has changed a lot over the last decade.

In this post, the Playwire team walks you through a brief history of in-app mobile native ads and breaks down what we offer to our publishers. Keep reading.

Ready to boost your revenue with native ads and all kinds of other high-value ad units? We can help. Reach out to the Playwire team today.

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Defining In-App Native Ads

When people say "native ads," they tend to think everyone has the same understanding of what they're talking about. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. In fact, the debate about what a native ad really is became so hot that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) put together the IAB Native Advertising Task Force to settle it in 2013. 

The basic idea of a native ad is that it is cohesive with the platform it's running on. So, for in-app mobile native ads, the ads look like they're a part of the app's content. However, the IAB task force was able to find six subtypes of native ads within that broad definition.

Types of Native Ads

A few years later, in 2019, the task force released a new native advertising playbook, which scrapped a few of the previously defined types of native ads, leaving these:

  • In-feed/in-content native ads. These are ads that look and feel like the surrounding article or content feed but are, in fact, ads. User experience is not interrupted as the user may scroll past them and not even realize they saw an ad that was distinct from the other content they were scrolling through at first glance.
  • Content recommendation ads. These are the "Sponsored Content" rows at the bottom of many news publishers' web pages. They're oldies but goodies. 
  • Branded/native content. This is content directly from an advertiser that is published in the same editorial style and format as the mobile app's other content.

Importantly, regardless of the format of the in-app native advertisement, each ad must tell viewers that it is, in fact, an ad and not pure editorial content.

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App Monetization Guide

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Four Questions to Define Native Ads

The IAB also released a list of six questions that marketers could ask to evaluate native ads. With their new guidelines in 2019, the IAB reduced the list to four questions:

  1. Design. Does the native ad format fit the visual design of the app or webpage on which it is displayed?
  2. Location. Are the native placements within the app's content feed or outside of it?
  3. Ad behavior. Does the ad behave exactly like other content when you interact with it by, say, clicking it?
  4. Disclosure. Does the in-app native ad unit contain a prominent and clear disclosure from the publisher stating that it is not editorial content?

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Adding Native Ads to OpenRTB Protocols

In late 2014, the IAB also added native advertising to its existing OpenRTB protocols, meaning media buyers and sellers could transact upon native inventory programmatically for the first time. For publishers interested in selling in-app native ads and advertisers interested in buying them, this was a landmark development.

Today, every exchange handles requests for native ads somewhat differently, but the basic idea is that a request specifies that it should be a native ad, and it contains a JSON document that includes all the relevant parameters and factors for the ad.

Defined In-App Native Ad Units Are Under Development

Playwire works hard every day to offer the best and most innovative ideas in ad revenue generation to publishers. Recently, that has meant that we have been developing standardized native ad units that our publishers will be able to sell programmatically at very high CPMs.

Those are nearing completion, but in the meantime, we have partnered directly with publishers and mediation partnersto figure out what we are willing and able to offer in terms of in-app native ads and create a custom solution to fit the bill.

High-Value Ad Units Command High CPMs. Get Them with Playwire.

When you work with Playwire, you get the best - the best ad units, the best customer service, the best everything. We have seen time and time again how much value unique and high-impact ad units, such as in-app native ads, add for both our publishers and the buyers who want to work with them. And that's why we're standardizing native ad units to deploy across our vast publisher network.

That's just one example of how we maximize revenue for app publishers who work with us. Want more examples? Reach out to our team any time.

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