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native ads vs banner ads: which should you use?

Updated: Jun 10

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the age of digital, it’s no surprise that online advertising has taken the lead in reaching the most receptive, relevant audience. Its popularity has created an endless range of different promotional techniques with one of the most common being display advertising. Display advertising refers to ads displayed on online spaces including websites, apps and social media through formats such as banners, video, text, or audio. In this blog, we’ll be focusing specifically on two: banner ads and native ads.


While display advertising has been around for over 20 years, native advertising was coined much more recently in 2011. Although both ads aim to communicate brand information in an online space, the two work very differently. With 53 percent of users stating they are more likely to look at a native ad than a banner ad, understanding the difference between the two and when one may be more appropriate could be key to driving campaign success.

what is a native ad?


Native advertising refers to the use of paid ads which appear - you guessed it - natively within the online channel. Unlike banner ads, native ads don’t really look like ads at all. They blend with the editorial flow of an online page, mimicking the design and feel of the platform. As a non-disruptive form of advertising, brands opt for this style when a softer selling approach is required rather than the obvious, often hard selling, approach of other ad formats such as Lightbox Ads. Native ads are most commonly used within:


  • major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. When displayed within a feed, these ads can easily be interpreted as other content from the platform.

  • Promoted search result at the top of a search engine results page.

  • articles and further content recommendations used to promote relevant content and provide a better user experience.

In an ad-saturated world, 84 percent of people agree that intrusive advertisements create a poor opinion of the brand. Branded as ‘the new pillar of digital’, native ads are an innovative option tailored to the user experience. This format of display advertising has created an engaging and less obtrusive alternative, but that doesn’t mean banner ads don’t have a place.


what is a banner ad?


Banner ads have been around since the dawn of display advertising and have stood the test of time, across the years through innovation and new techniques. When browsing the web, you will see variations of banner ads in all kinds of sizes. From leader board to skyscraper to squares, there are a range of standard dimensions dependant on which area of the website your ad is being featured:


  • skyscraper: 160 x 600

  • medium rectangle: 300 x 250

  • half page: 300 x 600

  • leader board: 728 x 90

  • billboard: 970 x 250

  • mobile banner: 300 x 50

  • mobile leader board: 320 x 50

  • large mobile banner: 320 x 100

  • mobile interstitial: 320 x 428


The prominent positioning of banner ads is often what makes them so popular as they are more likely to capture a user’s attention. They are not only effective at promoting your brand and product or services, but also tend to link back to a chosen webpage where users can access more information.


Effective banner ads clearly communicate a brand’s messaging to the user. However, as marketing efforts continue to evolve, the overall effectiveness of this format has decreased with the average click-through-rate (CTR) being just 0.05%. This decline is heavily attributed to the rise of ad blockers and viewer ad fatigue. But does this mean banner ads are now deemed useless in the world of marketing? Not quite. Many marketers are beginning to leverage the advantages of both banner types within their online advertising strategy in order to accelerate digital performance further.


which is right for my brand? native ads or banner ads…or both?


As the attention span of users continues to decrease, it’s become more important than ever to create and implement an effective, considered ad strategy in order to boost CTR and conversions. Choosing between native ads and banner ads can be difficult as each one has their own unique advantages. Our top tips can help you understand where they can work together, and which ad type may be better suited to your objectives.


targeting a niche audience

If your business proposition supports a small, niche audience, aim to use native advertising. As native ads are considered less intrusive, they are an effective method of reaching people who are already browsing and consuming content such as on blogs, magazines and social media platforms.


Always consider how your content will best fit into its environment before promoting. For example, native advertising on Pinterest would be better suited to a visual ad with minimal text while a native ad on LinkedIn would be more effective as a blog post or article.


optimising the user experience

Native advertising is the format of choice for an optimised user experience. Ads of this kind do not push products or services in a blatant way, instead they give subtle encouragement while raising brand awareness. It was reported that native ads registered 18 percent higher lift in purchase intent and 9 percent higher lift for brand affinity than banner ads. As a result, users are more likely to share native ads with a friend or family member, helping to further boost awareness.


engaging your audience

There are certain channels where users tend to engage with content on a regular basis. These include social media platforms where people like, comment and share other people’s content.


If users engage with content on a page, it makes sense to place a native ad within this space. As the user is already interacting with similar pieces, the chances of them engaging with your native ad significantly increases. AdRoll is a brilliant software tool that allows you to deliver tailored content to relevant prospects. As consumers interact with your display ads, the technology learns what is working best with your audience. It then adjusts the campaign, accordingly, generating the highest performance and ROI for an optimal spend.


increase brand awareness

If the goal of your campaign is to drive brand awareness, banner ads and native ads can be used in conjunction to achieve the best result. Banner ads are great for higher visual impact, while native ads are effective at placing the brand in a trusted, engaged environment surrounded by content that users are already consuming. Brands are likely to choose these ad formats when they want to grow through advertising. They help connect with customers at the right time and in the right place across global websites, increasing interactions and customer engagement.


lead generation

A common goal for many businesses is to generate leads and drive sales. Banner ads can encourage customers to complete a specific action such as clicking through to a product page or signing up for a newsletter. By linking through to a sign-up page, you can gather customer data which can then be used for further advertisements and nurturing.


retargeting campaigns

Retargeting ads are an effective way to nurture a user into coming back to convert and they fit well with banner ads. Using banner ads for retargeting puts your ads directly in front of the people who have already engaged with your brand. For example, if someone came onto your website but didn’t sign up or didn’t convert, you can retarget them with this format.


There is no definite answer to which advertising format better suits your brand. It heavily depends on factors including objectives, target audience, budget, the platform you’re advertising on, and the content you’re sharing.

Over the years, digital advertising has evolved with the introduction of new techniques to reach relevant audiences. Knowing the differences between a more traditional display advertising format such as banner ads in comparison to native ads is important. Understanding where people respond best to each format, you can optimise ad placement, positioning the right advertisement in front of the right people in the right place. Do you want to know more about banner ads vs native ads and when one may be more effective than the other? Contact the team today.

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