While banners are like billboards, native ads tend to be more text-heavy and interest-provoking. Which creative approaches are best suited for each of these formats?

Both native ads and banners are popular, easy, and reliable ways to engage audiences online. However, native ads match the surrounding environment and are perceived as part of the website, whereas banners are meant to stand out. A common mistake marketers make is disregarding these nuances and putting the same visuals, copies, and other creative materials for both native and display ad campaigns.

Banner ads: bright, catchy, and direct

Banners are fixed-size images; advertisers can put a short sales pitch and call to action button on these images, but there are no other distinct components in these ad units except for a visual. This format always uses a direct-selling approach, i.e. ads offer something to buy or sign up for right away. For example, you can showcase and offer your product to potential customers who are not looking for it yet or retarget your website visitors with special discounts.

When working with this channel, advertisers have to bet high on their visuals; only when an image is visually-pleasing and eye-catching, it can bring clicks. To grab attention, banners have to look sharp, colorful, and well-designed. The headline highlighting an offer should also be short, oversized, and catchy. For maximum performance, it is recommended to include call-to-action buttons featuring non-trivial action-packed texts, such as ‘get reserve’, ‘try’, ‘visit’, etc.

Native ads: unintrusive and telling stories

Native ads match the website design and layout, which allows them to receive more user attention and overcome banner blindness. According to Native Advertising Institute, consumers look at native ads 53% more than they do banners.

Each native advertisement consists of a title and a thumbnail image, and sometimes a call-to-action button is added. In most cases, ad creatives are placed in publisher content that is contextually relevant. Therefore, creatives that you use should be compelling, drawing users to click on them, but make sure they do not mislead consumers or disrupt their online experiences.

With natives, marketers can put their side of their brands’ stories and communicate these stories in the way brands want them to be heard. Usually, advertisers create entertaining presale content to help customers discover the benefits or motivate them to try the advertised product. Typically, this presale content comes out in the form of an advertorial article, interactive quiz, or an advertorial with an interactive twist.

In content-first, soft-selling native campaigns, you should create a narrative and sometimes make it interactive. Explaining the value of your brand, you can use storytelling in several ways:

  • tell success stories
  • solve the problem
  • show all positive changes

When aiming for more clicks and conversions, focus on creating unusual experiences for users and make your stories memorable in an emotional way. It also brings higher CTR when you address the reader as “you” and use emotional triggers suitable for your advertising message.

Bottom line

When applying different advertising formats, advertisers should always think about their end goals, i.e. whether they want to make users recall their brand later, revisit products they abandoned in the cart, inspire new audiences to try their product, or engage loyal customers with the brand content. Native advertising is effective for all of these purposes, but it’s important to understand all aspects of using it.

It makes sense that the above-mentioned differences in the advertising formats also have their effects on sales funnels and creative strategies in use. A good-performing native campaign extends a user’s reading process and has to have a story wrapped up in some form of entertaining content. Banners, on the other hand, do not try to be a part of the website, but rather they are aimed to catch a visitor’s eye with something striking and pull them away.