Native Ads vs. Banner Ads – What’s the Difference?

MediaGo Staff | 02/12/2021

In a recent post, we explored the key differences between native ads and social media ads, as well as how the two can complement each other as part of a multichannel marketing campaign. Today, we’ll shift to discussing the similarities and differences between native ads and banner ads. 

While one of the major differences between native and social ads is where they are published — typically on a news website or on a social network, respectively — the difference between banner ads and native ads is more fundamental. In short, they represent two different formats. 

At their core, native ads can be defined as advertisements that blend in with their surroundings.  The most popular types of native ads are those specifically designed to mimic a news article. The ad itself is made up of a creative (the main image of the advertisement) and ad copy (which is normally written in the form of an article headline). Native ads typically direct viewers to a sales page with a lot of information about a specific product or service, but they can also link to an advertorial-style article that provides the reader with useful information — whether they ultimately decide to make a purchase or not. 

That being said, native ads aren’t limited to text. Videos offer a way to subtly and unobtrusively publish “sponsored content.” Infographics and white papers can also fit the definition of native ads — albeit somewhat loosely. In other words, the concept of “native” is broad and widely applicable. But when advertisers talk about native placements, they are often referring to those on news or media websites.

Although native ads have been around for as long as people have been publishing newspapers (think of advertorials), they are relatively new to the online arena. Banner ads, on the other hand, are one of the oldest internet ad formats available.

Banner ads are quite straightforward in format and function. They consist of an image with baked-in ad copy, and often link directly to an e-commerce landing page. Today, banner ads can display either static images or brief, looping animations.

When it comes to goals, native ads and banner ads differ substantially. Banner ads can operate on a CPM or CPC basis,  making them the preferred choice for brand campaigns. On the flip side, native ads are more often geared toward lead-gen campaigns and can be measured based on CPC or other lower-funnel metrics, such as CPL.

The most fundamental thing to consider when choosing an ad format is your campaign goals. Although native ads are most often measured on performance metrics, like CPC, they can also achieve branding goals by exposing customers to your product or service through an advertorial. They are quite flexible in that they can link to a sales page or to an e-commerce landing page. Banner ads, on the other hand, are generally better-suited solely for brand exposure and for driving traffic directly to a product landing page.

We hope you found this introductory rundown on native ads vs. banner ads helpful. In future posts, we’ll dive into the details on how to run and optimize different types of ad campaigns to best suit your sales goals.