To truly comprehend why programmatic native advertising is such an unlikely pair, it’s necessary to understand both programmatic and native advertising on an individual level.

At first glance, it might seem like programmatic advertising and native advertising could be compared with one another; we could show you the pros and cons of either and have you come to a conclusion which one is better. However, the story of programmatic vs. native advertising is not one of contrasting features or comparing benefits.

Programmatic native advertising is about two seemingly irreconcilable models coming together to the benefit of both publishers and marketers. In fact, there are still skeptics who doubt this unlikely union, hopelessly clinging on to the safety of programmatic display advertising. For the longest time, their skepticism would have been well placed, but not anymore.

Why choose native ads?

Native advertising describes how ads are displayed on the web page. Unlike banner ads, interstitials, and rich media ads, native advertising conforms to the form and function of the page it’s on. In other words, native advertising matches the design of the web page and fits in seamlessly with the rest of the content.

First and foremost, native advertising combats ad fatigue. Uninteresting ads or excessive amounts of them tend to push users away, leading to reduced click-through rates. Since native ads come off as genuine content that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the page, users are more willing to click on them.

Secondly, banner blindness seems to be more pervasive than ever. People are so used to seeing display ads that they don’t even acknowledge them anymore. Again, the subtlety and natural design of native ads let them attract users’ attention instead of simply being glossed over.

Finally, native ads are an excellent way to increase brand awareness and earn more trust from the users, so long as you’re transparent about it.

Why choose programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising involves using artificial intelligence and real-time bidding in the ad placement process. Rather than buying ad places manually, marketers can transfer all the repetitive and time-consuming tasks to dedicated software solutions.

Buying and selling ads automatically bring a number of advantages. It’s much faster than buying places manually. In a fraction of a second, the algorithms can churn out the most complex calculations involving data sets that humans could never understand. They use all compiled data to support decision-making and bidding processes, leading to higher cost-effectiveness and enhanced customer insights.

The software can also help streamline the buying process and allow the teams of marketers to focus on budget considerations, attribution models, and goals.

Programmatic advantages, such as automation, cost-effectiveness, and enhanced customer insights, have brought this technology to the forefront of the media industry. In 2020, programmatic accounted for more than 89% of U.S. digital display ad spending.

The intersection of benefits

There are undeniable benefits to both native and programmatic advertising. They each represent an evolution in digital marketing, and their combined value is immense.

Native ads are the perfect solution to all problems plaguing modern ads. They aren’t disruptive and offer additional value to the users while building the relationship between them and the brand at the same time.

Placing them programmatically would change the digital marketing game.

The problem emerges

By now, the issue can be ascertained. On one hand, you have a system that’s designed to be efficient, fast, and deliver ads on a large scale. On the other, there’s a form of digital advertising that requires customization, forethought, and an individual approach to each ad.

The differences between programmatic and native seem insurmountable, yet savvy marketers are already taking advantage of programmatic native advertising with undeniable success.

The answer lies in IAB’s OpenRTB 2.3 protocol that came out in 2015. It included the Native Ads API Specification that married programmatic and native advertising and created a new powerhouse of digital marketing.

Breaking down the programmatic native ads

The aforementioned protocol brought a revolution to how native ads are deployed on the publisher’s website. The protocol and the API disassemble the ads into several components: headline, content URL, content description, image, brand name, and logo.

They also introduced six types of native ad units alongside a variety of ad unit layouts within a publisher’s website.

This means that it is now possible to programmatically deconstruct and reassemble assets as needed. Native ads can now be reshaped automatically to match the layout of the target web page, allowing you to get the best of both worlds — automatic real-time bidding with native ads that convert.

The conjoined future

Now that we bridged the gap between two vastly different marketing turfs, it’s only a matter of time before programmatic native advertising takes over.

It’s been rapidly gaining popularity (and budget) and is generally seen as a favorable replacement for the increasingly obsolete display ads. While banners won’t completely go away any time soon, it might be a good idea to start shifting your focus towards more acceptable and sustainable native ads.