Lowdown Series: Display Vs. Native Ads


Display vs Native Header

Display Vs. Native Ads: What’s the big difference?

A common phrase in Thailand is “same, same, but different’, which is an appropriate term when describing the differences between Display and Native Ads.

Display and Native ads share technical characteristics like delivery networks, display mechanics and click activation and achieve similar outcomes – creating brand awareness, driving traffic to your app or site, increasing downloads, revenue, etc.  But, the differences between the two is format, design and placement.



Display ADS

With a display ad, there’s only one creative with fixed content that appears in a pre-defined place on a mobile app or site. Banner ads are the industry standard and doesn’t blend in with its surroundings or content.

Use It When:

  • You want your viewers to see the same ad
  • Get a campaign up and running quickly

The good:

  • Requires less creative and technical skills to get up and running
  • Easily track metrics and results and make adjustments based on KPI’s
  • Well-established medium for reaching customers across the web

The bad:

  • Standardized so they look the same on every single page
  • Easy to ignore when the ad isn’t relevant to the user (banner-blindness)
  • Interrupts the reader’s content experience

Standard Mobile Display Sizes:


An example of a display ads in the real world.



Native ads is a form of paid media and are designed to blend in seamlessly with the content around them and mimic the design of the publisher’s app or mobile site. It allows you, the advertiser to serve relevant ad content to your target audience on every single impression.

Native ads can be delivered in a variety of ways:

  • Publications such as Forbes have sponsored posts
  • Facebook suggested posts
  • Twitter sponsored Tweets
  • Promoted Pins on Pinterest
  • Ads in search results on search engines
  • Promoted listings on Foursquare or Yelp
  • Sponsored stories on Buzzfeed, Mashable, Huffington Post, etc.

The beautiful thing about Dynamic ads is that you can easily swap out certain elements of your ad, such as call-to-action text, text color, language, images, exit URLs, either manually or programmatically based on the targeting rules.

Different types of Native ads:

A few examples of Native ads in the real world:


Use it when:

  • Targeting relevant content (you are a shoe designer, targeting “women” between 30-45 interested in “fashion” living in New York City and decide to place your native ad on InStyle’s fashion app).
  • You want to test different CTA’s (Buy Now vs. Get It!), copy, color and font.
  • You need to update copy frequently in your ads (you are a concert promoter, promoting a Madonna concert and need to change copy each day leading up to the day of the show).

The good:

  • Readers are more engaged with more relevant messaging
  • Helps improve brand awareness and buzz
  • Way to build deeper connections with consumers
  • More flexibility in positioning and style
  • Usually boasts higher CTR than those of display ads

The bad:

  • Requires more creative work because it’s tailored to each publisher
  • When not done or disclosed properly there can be a possible audience backlash for being ‘tricked’ into clicking on ads because some ads might not be clearly marked as ‘Sponsored Content, Post, etc’. Here’s a great article on this from MediaPost and if you have an extra 11 minutes, watch John Oliver’s bit on Native Advertising.


  • Display = 1 creative embedded into a mobile app.  Same, fixed, static creative on all impressions. Easily ignored. Tried & true method of reaching audience.
  • Native = creatives blended in with editorial content, more engaging to users, typically higher CTR.