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IAB Releases Native Advertising Playbook To Establish Common Industry Lexicon, Evaluation Framework & Disclosure Principles

Provides Guidance for Publishers, Agencies & Marketers on Successfully Leveraging Native Advertising in Campaigns

NEW YORK, NY (December 4, 2013) — Native has become a hot topic in the advertising marketplace, but for the practice to flourish further, it needs consensus on definitions and structure. In response, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and its Native Advertising Task Force has released the “IAB Native Advertising Playbook” to serve as a consistent framework for the discussion surrounding native advertising, identifying it as both an aspiration to seamlessly integrate brand messaging into consumers’ content experiences, as well as a practical suite of ad products that successfully meet that objective. In addition to the task force, senior-level buy-side executives were tapped for their expert counsel on what advertisers need to consider before they add native elements into their digital marketing mix. The IAB Public Policy Council was also consulted for the playbook’s recommendations on sponsorship disclosures.

The playbook highlights six core interactive ad formats that are currently being used within the native advertising landscape:

  • In-feed units
  • Paid search units
  • Recommendation widgets
  • Promoted listings
  • IAB standard ads with “native” element units
  • Custom

“Marketers are already embracing native strategies and publishers are looking for a roadmap that will allow them to take full advantage of the trend,” said Peter Minnium, Head of Brand Initiatives, IAB. “The more we can define and structure the framework surrounding native advertising, the easier we will make it for brands to easily incorporate it into their ad buys.”

“There is a renaissance underway in digital advertising that is driving brands, publishers and consumers to communicate with each other in more personal and natural ways,” said Patrick Albano, Vice President, Social, Mobile and Innovation Sales, Yahoo, and Co-Chair, IAB Native Advertising Task Force. “Native advertising is an important piece of this evolution. The IAB Native Advertising Task Force set out to provide guidance based on the state of the industry today while at the same time leaving room for flexibility to inspire innovation and growth.”

When evaluating native advertising options, the playbook suggests that marketers address six key marketplace considerations to ensure that a unit will meet their brand objectives:

  • Form – How does the ad fit with the overall page design? Is it in the viewer’s activity stream or not in-stream?
  • Function – Does the ad function like the other elements on the page in which it is placed? Does it deliver the same type of content experience (e.g., a video on a video page or story among stories) or is it different?
  • Integration – How well do the ad unit’s behaviors match those of the surrounding content? Are they the same, e.g., linking to an on-site story page, or are new ones introduced?
  • Buying & Targeting – Is the ad placement guaranteed on a specific page, section, or site, or will it be delivered across a network of sites? What type of targeting is available?
  • Measurement – What metrics are typically used to judge success? Are marketers more likely to use top-of-the-funnel brand engagement metrics (e.g., views, likes, shares, time spent) or bottom funnel ones (e.g., sale, download, data capture, register, etc.)?
  • Disclosure – How is this ad product identified as such?

As it relates to disclosure, the playbook provides overarching principles which ensure, regardless of context, that a consumer will be able to distinguish between what is paid advertising versus what is publisher editorial content. In addition, the paper identifies current model implementations for each ad unit, with the most commonly used native ad disclosure language, placement of that language, and any other cues to the consumer.

“I firmly believe that advertising on the modern internet will be defined by meaningful content, not standard ads. There’s a movement happening, away from interruptive, traditional ads, and towards thoughtful brand stories — and native ads are the most potent and effective distribution strategy for content-based advertising,” said Dan Greenberg, Founder and CEO, Sharethrough, and Co-Chair, IAB Native Advertising Task Force. “The IAB framework is the first step in standardizing a set of new native ad formats and represents a milestone for the movement. For advertisers, native, content-based advertising is the translation layer between the modern internet and traditional TV.”

Moving forward, the IAB is planning a series of Native Advertising Workshops beginning in March 2014, which will take a deeper dive into areas such as Measurement, Ethics & Disclosure and Consumer Attitudes & Behavior.

The complete “IAB Native Advertising Playbook” is available for download here.

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]