A Guide to Native Advertising for Publishers

Partner Post - Matomy Media Group - Mobile first ad agency

Posted: March 14, 2017


This post originally featured on the Matomy blog and was written by Asaf YoselevskiAsaf is the Senior Mobile Publisher Manager at Matomy’s MobFox. 

We all know that native advertising is the paid media that doesn’t look like paid media and offers a more natural experience in both form and function for users. But for all the hype, many advertisers and publishers are slow to adopt this user-friendly format. We’ve addressed this issue on the advertiser side, and now it’s time to get passed the small learning curve on the publisher’s side and see exactly how to start monetizing with native ads. And I’m here to walk you through the process.

How to Serve Native Ads

Working with a monetization partner is the first step to publishing native ads within your app. Many SSPs serve native ads – including MobFox – via SDK and/or API integrations. However, each SSP can be a little different in their offering and ad requests – either providing custom native ads or IAB-standard layouts or a combination. What this amounts to is just filling in some basic RTB Required Parameters, i.e. selecting the Native Ad Unit, the Layout, Context, and Placement Type.

*Note that this part gets a little confusing and here’s why: If you’re familiar with serving native ads, you know that originally there were only two parameters – the native ad unit and layout. However, with the introduction of IAB 1.1, we now have the addition of Context and Placement Type. The intention is to remove the first two parameters and use the latter instead, but because some DSPs and SSPs still use the old format, it’s best to fill in all four parameters if available. Why? So you won’t miss out on any demand, of course.

Starting from the Beginning

Once in your chosen platform, customize your native ad experience.

  1. Choose an Ad Unit. Here are your options:

Paid Search Units: Typically, these are sponsored direct-response ads that appear with search results.

Recommendation Widgets: Often recommendations appear right below the article content. Ex: You may also like, Sponsored content….See an example from Time.com:

recommendation native ads from time.com

Promoted Listings: Similar to in-feed and paid search ads, these ads are found on ecommerce and product sites that don’t have traditional editorial content. Think Amazon or ebay. See an example from Amazon:

promoted listings

In-Ad (IAB Standard) with Native Element Units: Native ads that fit in standard IAB dimensions, e.g. 300×250 or 320×50

Custom Ads: i.e. None of the above. Custom ads don’t fit within the standards previously described. Spotify branded playlists are a great example of this.

custom ads

2. Next, Select a Native Ad Layout

This question is just asking where and how the ad will be displayed. Here are your options:


  1. Choose the Native Ad Context

Let’s call this the “How would you categorize your app?” category. Really, all you have to do is provide some context for the SSP and advertiser by choosing one of the following categories: Content, Social, or Product. Where does your app fit in?

  • Content: News, articles, image or video gallery apps
  • Social: Email, chat, social network apps
  • Product: Product listings, recommendations, reviews…

Here’s a helpful image from our friends at IAB:

native ad context

4. Next, Pick the Native Ad Placement Type. This is a stand-in for the aforementioned layouts, but with updated and slightly vaguer terms. Here are your choices: In feed, Atomic, Outside, and Recommendation

In-feed: An ad within the organic feed, listing, grid or carousel

Atomic: An ad on the article page or a single image page

Outside: Similar to banners, these ads are located outside or beside the main content, typically on the right side

Recommendation:  Just like the recommendation widget, these are ads that present recommended content

Requesting Assets from Media Buyers

With banners, publishers ask for image references.  With pre-roll video, they ask for references. But what about native? With native, publishers request Assets from media buyers, specifically these assets: Title, Icon Image, Text, Main Image, and Call to Action.

As the publisher, you can choose which assets you want to use and implement in your app or mobile web page. That being said, it’s still best to request all assets as is, without rephrasing them or resizing images. This way you won’t confuse advertisers who are already familiar with these assets, and you’ll receive all the information you need from them.

Once you’ve mastered the art of native advertising (or at least jumped over the first few hurdles), you’ll be ready to monetize in the most user-friendly way possible, through native ads. Why not start now?