Display ads vs native ads: What’s the difference?

What are display ads?

Display ads are text, image, or video advertisements in the digital, online space. They can be used on websites, social media, apps, email newsletters, or other online channels to attract audience attention.

Display ads come in a variety of formats. Let’s look at those formats and examples below:

Banner ads: These are image or video-based ads rather than text-based ads

Interstitial ads: These ads are full-screen ads that cover an entire webpage, app, or game interface. Common examples include interscroller ads on mobile and homepage takeovers on web pages.

Rich media ads: These ads incorporate media like video or audio that encourage interactivity with the content

Display ads also come in a variety of sizes, including:

  • Leaderboard: 728×90
  • Skyscraper: 300×250
  • Medium rectangle: 160×600
  • Smartphone banner: 300×50
  • Billboard: 970×250
  • Portrait: 300×600

Display ads are used throughout the entire customer journey to help drive awareness of and engagement with a business. However, display ads are a popular option for retargeting campaigns. With these campaigns, an organization uses display ads to re-engage audiences that had previously visited their digital properties.

What are native ads?

Native ads are paid ad units that match their environment or surroundings and are used to promote a brand, product, or service. Native ads have an editorial look and feel and can be used on a web page, email newsletter, or in-app property. These units are similar to an advertorial but come in various formats. The three main types of native ad formats are:

  • Branded content native ads
  • In-feed native ads
  • Content recommendation native ads

Because native ads more seamlessly integrate with their surrounding content than other ad formats, users are more likely to engage with them.

What’s the difference between native ads and display ads?

Each ad type provides its own unique set of benefits. Let’s look at the chart below to better understand the differences between them.

Native ads

Display ads

  • Blend into their surroundings
  • Have a similar look and feel to the content around it
  • Stand out as advertisements
  • Are obviously ad placements within their environment
  • Ideal for awareness campaigns
  • Ideal for dynamic creative and retargeting campaigns
  • Higher CTR than display ads
  • Lower CTR than native ads
  • Higher CPC than display ads
  • Lower CPC than native ads

What’s better, display ads or native ads?

Display ads and native ads have pros and cons, as we learned from the comparative chart above. It’s up to each business to identify their campaign goals and KPIs to assess which one of these ad units can help them meet their needs. However, one powerful approach is to use both native ads and display ads to drive optimal engagement with one’s brand. You can leverage native ads to help you capture attention and visits to your website. Then, you can retarget your users with display advertising to help drive them back to your website and engage further with your brand.

Best practices for designing display and native ads

Whichever ad type you decide to use in your advertising campaigns, understanding design best practices can help you maximize the effectiveness of your ads and campaign. Let’s take a look at how you can do just that:

Display ad best practices:

  • Keep it simple: Don’t overcomplicate the creative concept.
  • Use strong colors: Choose a color palette that helps establish your brand, enhances your messaging, and influences behavior.
  • Employ clear messaging: Keep copy concise so you can quickly capture attention, demonstrate value, and set expectations.
  • Keep branding visible: Keep your logo visible while complementary to the overall design.
  • Use a straightforward CTA: Make it very clear what action you’d like to user to take

Native advertising best practices:

  • Clear image: Use a plain product or model shot to blend with the content
  • Native-style message: Write the copy in an educational style instead of promotional, so it looks like an article and blends in with the content
  • Omit CTA buttons: To maintain an editorial look and feel, skip the CTA button altogether.

Discover what native and display ads can do for you

Don’t just take our word for it — try out these formats and see what they can do for you. By leveraging both native and display ads across the entire marketing funnel, you can uncover new strategies and tactics that can help drive engagement and business results.

Want to learn about LiveIntent’s display and native ad solutions? Contact us to hear more about our unique offerings.