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Going Native? Think Before You Leap

First impressions are everything. Or so someone said. In the world of mobile, this holds truer than anywhere else. With such a large plethora of mobile apps and websites competing for the user’s’ share of mind and time – the 1st impression can make or break the app’s story. It is no wonder then that the app experience or user experience has expanded to include the ad experience as well. Hence the rise of Native Advertising.

Richard Branson famously said “You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing and falling over”. We at InMobi, now have the experience of working with more than 400 publishers and advertisers for native ads and can honestly say we have learnt the nuances of creating a superb implementation. Most publishers will agree that Scale and Performance are the biggest worries keeping them awake at night. Much has already been said about the high level things you need to keep in mind when working with native ads. Here are a few things to keep in mind to protect the unassuming mobile users, when you get into the nitty-gritty of integrating native ads.

Discoverability: Swipe. Click. Click. Scroll. Click. Swipe. Voila! There’s your native ad! If you make the user struggle to discover your native ad, then you will struggle equally to earn ad revenues. Place the ad on the most visited pages of your mobile property, above the fold and you are sure to get a share of the elusive ad engagement.

Identification: Is this an ad? No, wait..I think this is the ad. Native Ads are expected to be like chameleons – hidden within the rest of the content. Hide it too well and the user won’t be able to find it. Demarcate the ad in a different color and clearly call out “Sponsored” or “Promoted” or even just plain and simple “Ad” to ensure your users are not duped.

Simplification: With ads, like in life – less is more. Declutter the mobile property and minimize the number of advertising messages exposed to the user on a single page. The best results are obtained when there is a single ad on the page – appearing persistently to give the user enough time to register it. We unde  rstand – you don’t trust the format enough to put all your eggs in the native basket. But give it a fair chance and split your ad formats across different pages. We guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

These are the basic principles of ensuring performance for your native ad unit. Every vertical has further nuances specific to the characteristics of content consumption.

News apps generally have a loyal user base with an average of 6 minutes of session time. Of this, browsing time is restricted to 2 minutes, spent perusing the different headlines. Placing the ad unit amongst these pages and capitalizing on the user’s mood of discovery is the best placement for the native ad unit.


Similarly, social and messaging apps, encourage users to browse through social feed pages to break the monotony of routine life. With an average session time of 3 minutes, it is important to capture the user’s attention as soon as possible. Placing the ad unit in the 2nd of the social feed has proven to have the best results. However, it is prudent not to act as “Big Brother” and sneak in ads in the private spaces of the social app – such as conversation windows.


Entertainment and utility apps tend to have more off screen usage, than on screen. There is no point in refreshing the ads if the user is not looking at the screen. Triggering ad display based on user interaction is the key to success for this category. Hence, it becomes important to have guided interaction at regular touch points to enable discovery of the ad unit.


Be wise and think twice before blindly putting a native ad anywhere on your mobile app or website. There is a method to the madness. As the journalist Miles Klington said “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”



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