There are dozens of native ad networks out there, giving both advertisers and publishers a sometimes overwhelming number of options.
How do you know which one is best for you? The answer will naturally depend on which side of the equation you are on.
If you’re a publisher, you’ll probably be most interested in a platform that will generate traffic, complement the look and feel of your editorial content and offer a favourable pricing model.
If you’re a brand or an agency working with a brand, you’ll most likely be primarily concerned with which platform is best for reaching your intended audience, which gives you the most control over your content and which is most likely to give you the best bang for your buck.
Because I advise brands on how to use native advertising to reach their ideal customers, this article is thus going to primarily focus on selecting a native advertising platform from a brand or agency point of view. For the publisher’s perspective, I recommend Publift’s recent guide to native ad platforms.
Alright, it’s time to take a look at the top native ad networks to help you scale your business.
The content recommendation engine Outbrain has an interesting position in the marketplace.
Outbrain has been at the forefront of making native advertising more performance-driven since its launch in 2006. It offers some of the same bidding strategies you’re probably used to on other platforms, such as Target CPA and Target ROAS.
While these bidding options are useful for performance goals, Outbrain has also introduced others that give control back to marketers. One of those is called EBS, which allows you to use first-party data from your Google Analytics account to optimize your traffic objectives.
Outbrain has a potential reach of 1.3 billion people from over 55 countries but it also has one of the most strict approval processes, not just for the ad content but also when it comes to onboarding new publishers.
Through Outbrain, your ads can show up on premium publishers such as CNN, Time, New York Post, Men’s Health and The Washington Post, to name a few.
Outbrain should be on your radar if you’re looking for a mix of very high-quality traffic with built-in, first-party data solutions.
Here´s another giant in the content discovery space. Founded in 2007, Taboola is a solid ad network with over 14,000 advertisers reaching more than 500 million active users on premium publishers.
Through Taboola, you can reach almost 45% of the entire internet population and 87% of internet-connected mobile devices in the United States. Its biggest publishers include names such as USA Today, Bloomberg, Fox News, and Business Insider.
Similar to Outbrain, you can target a wide range of countries. Traffic here can be quite cheap compared to Outbrain, though. But you sure won´t have a problem with scaling ad spend either.
Like most top ad networks, Taboola offers some of the most advanced pre-bid brand safety controls.
Taboola won´t disappoint if you want to “scale to the moon” with a good mix of publisher quality.
While Yahoo certainly needs no introduction, you might not know that it has a native advertising platform.
But it does and it’s powerful! Meet Yahoo Gemini.
Much like Google, Yahoo Gemini’s superpower comes from the data signals collected from not just email accounts or content readership but also from its search engine, amongst others.
This data powers sophisticated algorithms that help boost the performance of advertisements on the network. Its tracking systems are very reliable too. You can also import Google Ads data into Gemini, which can be a useful feature for search advertisers.
Yahoo has what it calls “O&O properties” (owned and operated content) as well as partnerships with external publishers like ABC News, ESPN and Apple News.
It pretty much covers the whole spectrum of marketing objectives, including brand awareness, app-install, product purchases and search retargeting. Geographically, Yahoo covers mostly the US, France and the UK.
Yahoo Gemini can be the right network for advertisers who want a reliable, user-friendly experience.
RevContent is one of the fastest-growing native ad networks. Why? Among other perks, its ad technology is not dependent on cookies.
With governments cracking down on privacy matters and an end to third-party cookies looming, this ad network is gaining points in the native advertising market.
Publishers need at least 50,000 visitors a month to qualify for hosting RevContent’s widgets. This selection process helps to bring big names like Forbes and Nasdaq into the mix of publishers.
Most of the traffic you can buy through this ad network comes from “Tier 1 countries” like the US, Canada, Germany, France, and the UK.
RevContent’s lightweight ad technology can be very appealing to publishers but also help boost performance for advertisers. It might be your go-to network to get ahead of the coming cookie demise and reach high-spending audiences.
Numbers matter in the advertising industry and MGID’s don’t fail to impress.
Through its native ad network, you can reach over 850 million unique monthly visitors on over 30,000 publishers, primarily focused on entertainment and lifestyle.
MGID allows you to specifically target “Tier 1” countries but its biggest share of impressions comes from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and APAC.
Through MGID’s technology, your ads can show up on giant publishers such as Newsweek, MSN, or The Week. Content-wise, you can run native, push, display, and video ads. Unlike some other platforms, MGID also accepts affiliates.
MGID might win you over if you want a reliable ad network with high-quality traffic and scale. Unlike some other platforms, MGID also accepts affiliates.
Nativo positions itself as “the storytelling platform”.
This is a very efficient network with useful features such as inventory forecasting, dynamic creative optimization, content audits, custom report builders, and a lot more.
You’ll also be glad to know that about 75% of Nativo’s ad serving doesn’t rely on cookies. You won’t need to worry about ad fatigue either; there are six different formats to choose from.
Nativo is a growing platform. It hosts around 400 publishers and about 600 advertisers, reaching over 220 million monthly unique users in the US. Famous publishing names include Time, Coindesk, and Reuters. While its numbers may be lower than some of its competitors, its ad technology is far from average.
Nativo partners with other ad networks to give their targeting capabilities “an extra punch” and a broader scope. This is possible through the use of leading Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) like MediaMath, Zemanta and The Trade Desk.
Nativo stands out not just by its campaign performance but also by the level of customer support, assisting you with content creation and providing valuable insights.
It could be “the one” if you value extra advertiser support, programmatic capabilities, and all-in-one interfaces.
With TripleLift, you can expect a sophisticated programmatic native buying experience.
Computer vision and dynamic templating are some of this platform’s most innovative features. Computer vision scans your ads and their elements to generate ad placements that keep the important focal point in the frame. Dynamic templating adapts creative assets in real-time to match the look and feel of any placement on any website.
Similar to Outbrain, TripleLift has strict rules on content quality. And for good reason. The New York Times, USA Today, Buzzfeed, and BBC are some of the big names on its list of publishers.
On the programmatic side, TripleLift makes use of the world’s top DSPs such as Adobe, Xandr, MediaMath, and Amobee, to name a few.
One huge advantage of this ad network is the diversity of media. Besides native, you can buy video, connected TV, display, and brand content placements.
TripleLift's amazing ad technology and programmatic capabilities might just convert you.
Here is a name you might not have heard of. AdBlade was founded in 2008 and currently reaches over 300 million users in the US with its content ad technology.
AdBlade accepts advertisers from all verticals but like many top native ad networks, it has restrictions on content quality. For instance, they even restrict long-tail websites as it is usually a sign of spam.
Because of its content exclusivity, advertising through AdBlade can get a bit pricy. Some ad networks tend to give you clicks around $0.15 to $0.20 but you can expect to pay around $0.50 per click on AdBlade. High competition verticals go higher than that.
AdBlade received some unwanted attention back in 2015 when it was found liable for defaming a competitor. Business dealings aside, this is a very effective ad network, especially for brands with higher average order values, a profitable backend, or wide inventories.
AdBlade can be “your type” if you don´t care too much about front-end ad costs and want the best traffic you can possibly get.
You might not have heard of this one either but its stats might surprise you.
Dianomi serves around 12.8 billion content ads every month and reaches more than 515 million readers on over 315 premium publishers across the globe. Some are well-known players such as Kiplinger, MoneyWeek, and MarketWatch.
This native ad network specializes in the financial and investment sectors, reaching mostly affluent readers. In fact, Dianomi says that the audiences it reaches earn on average $100K per year.
It also works with most of the world’s largest asset management firms and half of the largest banks in the US. For these reasons, traffic here can get very expensive.
But Dianomi could be a good investment if you’re in the financial industry or want to reach affluent buyers.
Choosing the best native ad network for your brand can be tricky, but I hope that laying out some of the differences between them has made things a bit clearer for you.
I’d still recommend you do your own due diligence and not trust what I have to say. Your preference is subjective, depending on your business type, marketing goals, location, and products.
But if you had to pick from one of these, which would it be? I’ll let you sit and think about it.
Pedro is an advertising consultant at Advertongue, the world's leading all-in-one, performance-based native agency. An award-winning professional with multi-million dollar budgets spent for a wide range of industries worldwide, across search, social, programmatic display, audio, video and connected TV, specializing in native. Sought out by peers for his creativity, wisdom and positive vibe.
Join +10,000 peers and become part of the growing native advertising community.