Programmatic Native Ads: Mobile’s New Two-Headed Saviour

Let’s you and I talk a little about programmatic native.

Let’s you and I make sure we’re on the same page when we fling words around like “programmatic native” before we sling terms around and confidently snap our suspenders back like we know what we’re talking about.



Programmatic ads are a step above banner ads - they’re essentially blocks that are meant to stand out from a page’s editorial content, while native ads align themselves with actual content on a site: it’s advertising content that looks or reads like editorial content.

Both formats fundamentally have their own pros and cons: native ads are more likely to deliver targeted messages to specific readers and potential consumers, but using them does mean they have to be tailored to match surrounding content and can’t be applied to just any web page, as programmatic ads can. The downside of of programmatic ads, scalable as they are, is that while they can reach a wider audience, users are less likely to engage with them.

It’s easy to apply the above insights to desktop browsing, but mobile user experience tends to get sidelined - so the industry is starting to Frankenstein it up and create: programmatic natives.   

Have a look at the New York Time’s “Flex Frames” native ads:

So in effect, they’re tailored "content" ad units that are created for specific actual content within the Time’s website, mobisite and app, and are adaptable to adjustable ad formats based on what their own insight suggests users are most likely to respond to. And it works - the Times reports their click-through rates and viewable impressions have increased by 6 and 4 times, respectively - compared to banner ads.  

So the take-out is this: don’t neglect your mobile audience. Marketingland said this year that Mobile now represents 65 percent of digital media time - which means that marketers absolutely cannot second-guess the need and likelihood of engagement with content on mobile platforms.

Here are some tips from ThinkWithGoogle:

-Provide multiple assets for maximum variability. This means you you’ll have options for differnet story styles and formats.

-Combine native ads with contextual targeting. Try to get the target demographic of your ads to match the media content your target market might be consuming.

-Measure native ad performance to other ads. Always test! You will need to optimize programmatic campaigns holistically - it’s going to help you with your broader strategy.  

Now go out and lay siege with your your two-headed beast. 

Now go out and lay siege with your your two-headed beast.