Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017

Publication Title

Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing








This study is a content analysis of a random sample of in-feed native ads, as curated by the Sharethrough Native Advertising Leaderboard. A native ad is paid content that looks like organic content and is served in the same feed. Native ads can earn premium CPMs for publishers, while giving advertisers a “lean in” format that online readers may actually enjoy. What are these native ads like? They utilized a mixture of assets including text (almost all), photos (an average of five), videos (almost half had one or more), interactive elements (20 percent) and GIFs. Only 75 percent of ads were disclosed, with a wide range of disclosure words, placement or graphic treatments used to communicate the disclosure. The ads also used diverse persuasive approaches. Thirty-four percent of ads in the sample contained either no mentions of the brand or just one mention. While some ads were written with clear calls to action, a few had none and two-thirds had only one. Many of the native ads in the sample used linkbait headlines, almost 40 percent used listicle headlines, and only a few used descriptive, or journalistic, headlines.


Author Posting. © Henry Stewart Publications 2017. This article is posted here by permission of Henry Stewart Publications for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing, 2017,

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.