Just one of GumGum's countless automotive ads featuring "native advertising" capabilities without the "native" tag. Click the image to see its animated version.

Just one of GumGum’s countless automotive ads featuring “native advertising” capabilities without the “native” tag. Click the image to see its animated version.

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This ad for the Magic Mike DVD release appears over an image of one of the film’s stars; an example of “native” features within in-image ads. Click the image to see its animated version.













Around the time industry buzz about “native advertising” reached a fervor pitch in 2012, we made a decision not to make it central to GumGum’s market positioning, despite how easy it would be to jump on the bandwagon.

Besides not wanting to confuse our buyers, we saw the potential unintended consequence of having to spend time defending how in-image ads are native, at a time when there was still so much to be said about the emerging image marketplace and the opportunity it represents for both publishers and marketers.

Whether native advertising is just another buzzword or a category with real staying power remains to be seen – people seem to either love it or loathe it. But one thing native and in-image advertising certainly share in common is the desire to take a serious chunk of the $100B+ global digital advertising market.

So are in-image ads “native?”

It comes up often enough in our conversations with brands that we decided to publish our own definition of native advertising. If nothing else, to serve as a litmus test for whether we’re technically native, regardless of what anyone thinks, or whether we decide to position it as such.

GumGum’s definition of Native Advertising:

Native Advertising is sponsored content or paid advertising of any kind that is both relevant to users and consumed in-line with how they would normally encounter the content published around it.

By this definition, in-image advertising would be considered native, so long as the ad is contextually relevant to the image over which it appears.

For now, we’ll leave the bidding of how the industry should define native advertising to others. In-image ads work because they get seen, appearing on contextually relevant images, in-line with editorial content where a consumer’s attention is actively engaged. If advertisers (or publishers, for that matter) want to call them native advertising, that’s fine with us.