Remember how media websites looked in 1999? In fact, most still look the same: a scrollable homepage with above-the-fold features and below-the-fold article links; a prominent, central navigation
intended to drive more page views; and banner ads up top and on the sides.
But the traditional content publisher layout is now being replaced by content streams, grids, and galleries that produce a more social, fluid experience… and take advantage of the fast-growing market for native advertising. Native ads are brand content such as videos, photos, and articles directly integrated into the fabric of a publisher’s site, such as Facebook Sponsored Stories, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets or promoted videos on YouTube and Tumblr. Forward-looking publishers are turning their sites into fluid content streams to create a more dynamic user experience for their content and to incorporate branded content
into the mix.
Here are three design frameworks that are growing in popularity and expanding the market for native advertising:
1. Feeds/Content Streams
Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other feed-based platforms have fundamentally changed the way people consume content. Our brains now feed off feeds. Each of these platforms offers a constantly updated stream of news, media and information. Feeds are very native-friendly, since brands can insert their
content (posts, photos, and videos) directly into the stream. Readers see brand posts in the same context as posts from their friends and followers. Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets are early examples of in-feed native ad units, and we’re sure to see many more iterations on this model, particularly on mobile.
Gallery formats are very visual, with rectangular content units arranged in a symmetrical layout and often featuring an infinite scroll. Readers can scan images and click on them for deeper content. Pinterest is the most well-known gallery site, and marketers are already highly active on the site, pinning images to promote new products and build their brands. Once Pinterest rolls out Promoted Pins, brands will surely pay to have more prominent placement in relevant galleries. Chill and the newly re-designed Digg are also popular gallery-format sites. Gallery formats are extremely image-intensive, providing a great opportunity for brands to market visual-rich photo and video content.
Like galleries, grids are image-driven. Grids are usually video stills or images laid out in a square format, and they allow for a bit more accompanying text than gallery formats. Users can click on the image to get to an article, video, or more info. Devour, Etsy, and Imgur are good examples of successful grid-based sites. What makes grids so powerful is curation. Because you have a limited amount of homepage real estate with a grid, the images you choose to promote within the grid define the whole feel of your site. Grid-based native ads are a great fit for brands who publish original content, whether its images, videos or articles, as they can be integrated natively within the layout and enhance the core content experience.
Chris Schreiber, VP of marketing at Sharethrough