Native vs. Display: What Is the Difference?

Updated on: January 4, 2024
Native ads have better viewability and CTR. But does it improve your bottom line?

Media buyers have several ad formats available in the digital advertising space, including but not limited to native ads, display ads, video ads, and rich media ads. At present, they seem to flock towards the display and native ads more than other ad formats. As a publisher, which one should you choose – native ads vs. display ads?

Sidenote: A video ad has its upshots, but the cost of creating a video ad is considerably higher than that of a display or native ad.

Both display and native formats are implemented by publishers – big or small. While both ad formats are effective in their way, they are extremely different from each other in some aspects. So what exactly are they? Also, let’s find out how to use the formats to increase your ad revenue.

What Are Display Ads?

Let’s start with the basics.

Display Ads – On certain websites, you might have seen banners of different sizes with some texts and calls to action. Well, that’s a banner ad, also known as a display ad.

Display ads have their sizes and designs, which can be about any service or product they are trying to sell on behalf of their advertisers. In general, display ads served on a website are relevant to the website’s content category or services. Such targeted display ads can be served using behavioral or contextual targeting.

Display ads have been in the online space for more than twenty years. The first display ad was run by AT&T in 1994, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What Are Native Ads?

Ever come across that ‘sponsored’ or ‘recommended’ content in the middle of a website’s feed? That’s an excellent example of a native ad. Native ads appeal to the look and feel of the website on which they are being run. The ads stay subtle and adapt to the environment, ensuring a better user experience and higher engagement rate for the publishers.

Native ads came into the picture in 2011, and the industry has widely accepted them. As per eMarketer’s 2022 research study, in the United States, the expenditure on native display advertising is anticipated to grow by 12.5% annually in 2023, ultimately reaching an impressive figure of $98.59 billion.

Native Ads vs. Display Ads: What Sets Them Apart?

In the ever-growing advertising world, ads are irreplaceable. Online ads have occasionally faced heavy criticism from the audience because of their obstructive nature. However, they are still one of the most popular media advertising.

The attention span of readers has decreased. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for you as a publisher to create and implement an effective ad strategy to increase your viewability and CTR. While display ads have been around for much longer, native ads are utilized by some of the most renowned publishers, such as BuzzFeed and Business Insider.

Choosing between both options can create a lot of confusion for publishers as they have unique advantages. Nevertheless, comparing and understanding both can help you determine what works best for you.

As we’ve already covered what native and display ads are, let’s dive a little deeper to understand the differences between them for better clarity.

Criterion Display Ads Native Ads
Pricing Relatively cheaper Relatively costly
Competition High Relatively low
Appearance Stand out from the website content and can be intrusive (if not properly placed). It fits right into the website design, and native ads are less intrusive.
Placement Usually on the top or side of the page, aside from the content. Within/in-between the content.
Ad Viewability It could be high if the ad is placed in the right place. Relatively higher as they are subtly placed within the content.
CTR Low-performing display ads are often ignored. High as users tend to click the native ads.
Target purpose The ideal choice for remarketing campaigns. Ideal for driving the audience to the brand or product landing pages.

Game of Performance Metrics


For every business, the final result that matters the most is sales/customer acquisition. Advertisers tend to optimize their spending based on the ROI of ad campaigns or any other form of marketing.

As the users view the native ads more frequently than the display ads, the likelihood of users clicking on the ad increases considerably.


So, more clicks mean better revenue for you?

It depends. With the right landing page and value prop, the advertiser can get more visits and convert them into customers. On the other hand, publishers focus on the ad revenue generated per user session. If users leave the website, your page views, time spent on the page, and session duration will decrease.

That means you might deliver lesser ad impressions, affecting your bottom line.

However, some native ad networks offer you CPC (cost per click) rev-model, wherein you earn better with increased clicks, not impressions. If your campaigns are based on the CPC model, native ads can help you boost ad revenue. 

Native Ads vs. Banner Ads: Which One Is More Profitable for Publishers?

Native and banner ads are two potential avenues for publishers to generate revenue. However, their success is contingent on several factors, such as the publisher’s audience demographics, the content’s nature, and the ads’ strategic placement. 

By experimenting with these different options, publishers can identify the most effective strategies for generating revenue and engagement. Additionally, combining multiple ad formats can provide publishers with even greater revenue opportunities. 

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