• 03.21.17

A New Study Says Native Advertising Spend In U.S. To Reach $22 Billion This Year

Sponsored content, paid posts, whatever you call it, get ready for more.

A New Study Says Native Advertising Spend In U.S. To Reach $22 Billion This Year
[Source Photo: Flickr/Powerhouse Museum]

John Oliver may have called it “repurposed bovine waste,” but it appears as though native advertising isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, a new eMarketer study says that native digital display ad spending in the U.S. will grow 36.2% this year to reach $22.09 billion.


And why not? As marketing opportunities continue to splinter across a myriad of platforms and channels, at the same time as traditional interruptive ad intervals are ever avoided like a consumerist plague, brands need to find a way to get their messages across in ways we might actually want to see it. Back in 2014, The New York Times‘ executive vice president of advertising Meredith Levien said readers were spending roughly the same amount of time on advertiser-sponsored posts as on news stories, and the company sold upwards of $18 million worth of native ads that year. It’s T Brand Studio continues to roll out some of the best examples of the ad genre, most notably still is the 2014 interactive piece “Women Inmates,” a detailed look at incarceration of women sponsored by . . . you guessed it . . . Netflix for Orange is the New Black.

In its inaugural native ad forecast, eMarketer says that native ad spending will make up more than half (52.9%) of all display ad spending in the U.S., for the first time. “Growth of native digital display is being driven by publishers’ pursuit of higher-value and more mobile-friendly inventory, as well as by advertisers’ demands for more engaging, less intrusive ads,” said eMarketer principal analyst Lauren Fisher, in a statement.

More recently we’ve seen native increasingly invade music marketing, with partnerships like that between Spotify and The North Face.

While most of the native display ad spending in the U.S. is social, and mainly on Facebook–this year, native social network display ad spending will reach $18.59 billion, representing 84.2% of all U.S. native display–the study says social’s share of native is falling and will drop to 82.2% next year, as non-social (specifically in-feed and sponsored content) grows faster. “We’re seeing a huge ramp-up in non-social publishers adopting in-feed ads and video,” Fisher said. “This, coupled with continued advancements on the programmatic native front, will accelerate non-social native ad spending.”

Not surprisingly, the bulk of native spending is mobile, with native mobile display ad spending projected to hit $19.50 billion this year, or 88.3% of all native advertising, and growing.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.