Over the last five years, IAB Europe has released guides to native advertising, in order to educate both marketers and publishers, i.e., the buyers and sellers, on all the latest trends surrounding native advertising. With much anticipation, their most recent guide was published in December 2021.

Read on to find out what’s new in IAB Europe’s December 2021 guide and what it means for you, no matter your place in the digital marketing ecosystem.

What hasn’t changed so far

Native advertising is by no means a new term, rather it’s already fairly well-understood by all parties involved. All that’s left is to streamline and optimize the processes so as to deliver the highest-quality service to the user. Much like native advertising, IAB’s guides have evolved and streamlined over the last five years. That’s why the latest guide doesn’t offer some great paradigm shift regarding native — because there hasn’t been one.

There haven’t been any major changes in how native advertising is used or the direction it’s taking. The definition of native advertising has remained the same throughout all iterations of IAB Europe’s guides, so there’s nothing radically different to expect.

It’s still a proactive method of reaching highly specific audiences that focuses on action rather than passively counting views. It remains a useful tool in every stage of the sales funnel and your best ally in engaging your target audience.

Most importantly, clearly stating what sponsored content and native ads are is of utmost importance. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

More native ad placements

Looking back at the IAB Europe’s guide from 2019, you can see that the main focus was on in-feed or in-content ads and content recommendation ads.

While these are still the most common ad placements, the new guide includes the latest additions to the placement lineup (courtesy of technological advancements in the last two years). Besides in-feed and in-article native ads, you can now find native ads throughout the page and experience its different iterations of content: footer, native displays, in-mail, in-image, in-newsletter and in-video.

Certainly, more types of ad placements are to be expected in the near future.

Programmatic native

Programmatic advertising has seen an unparalleled rise in recent years, and the same goes for programmatic native ads.

There’s been a lot of doubt regarding how well programmatic and native would pair, given native’s underlying need for customizable and individual placement. What’s changed between publications of IAB’s guides is how well-accepted native has become.

Programmatic advertising now completely accounts for native, and it’s possible to buy the right inventory at the right time and customize it for native ads.

The future of native

The most important part of the latest guide deals with expectations regarding what the future holds for native advertising.

Naturally, the biggest shifts are expected to occur in the devices that we use to view native ads. We’re still feeling the shift from desktop to mobile, and while most of the online world has grown accustomed to the mobile-first approach, it’s crucial to remember that it’s probably not the final device type we have to optimize for. The 2021 guide mentions Facebook’s partnership with Ray-Ban, Spectacles by Snap and Google’s previous attempt with Google Glass.

It’s important to keep in mind that we have no idea what the final frontier for native advertising is going to be. Digital marketers have to stay ahead of the curve and keep in touch with all the latest advancements in the tech space.

Beyond new devices, interactivity and innovation are going to keep driving most of the changes. We’ve all seen the impact GIFs have on user engagement. Activity and dynamic ads beat static images every day of the week. Keep an eye out for VR, AR and new and creative types of payment methods that users would love. Innovation will drive sales more than ever.

While technological advancement and interactivity all sound well and good, don’t neglect the users’ offline experience. The guide suggests increasing the importance of tracking store visits and using hyper-local targeting, QR codes and coupons to map the online-offline path to purchase.


Native advertising is picking up the pace faster than ever before. Don’t neglect programmatic native, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, and keep an eye out for new and innovative ways to integrate your native messaging.