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Apple News adds new native banner ad format for sponsored posts

Sponsored posts will resemble normal posts
iOS Reading
March 15, 2016

A new ad format that is designed to look like normal content has just been introduced to Apple News. As noted by Business Insider, Apple has just added support for a new “native banner” ad format for sponsored posts in its news aggregation app.

Going native

Going native
Apple News
Apple News in action.

Apple details the specifications for ads that run in its News app in a dedicated document for news publishers. As it turns out, this document has been updated this month with the notable addition of specifications for a new native banner ad format.

Like other digital spaces that display ads powered by Apple’s iAd advertising platform, News has long been running ads that take the form of pre-roll videos as well as standard and interstitial banners, which are easily distinguishable from the main content.

Learn more about iAd’s interstitial banners and pre-roll video ads

But this time, News has gained support for running sponsored posts that take the form of native banners — “native” in the sense that they’re designed to resemble normal posts and blend in with their environment. However, sponsored posts can still be differentiated from normal posts with a “Sponsored” callout at the bottom.

Native ads display directly in the content feeds, inline with News articles. They will be set in the default font used in News. Each ad includes a title, text excerpt and a small image, and is distinguished by a ‘Sponsored’ callout. The sponsored advertiser name is optional. If an advertiser name is not provided, the reader will see ‘Sponsored’ in the banner.

- Apple, setting out its main design consideration for native banners in News (PDF)

Above the “Sponsored” callout in a native banner, four lines are devoted to the title and the excerpt, with spatial priority given to the former, i.e., if the title wraps to four lines, the excerpt will not be displayed. Of course, a native banner can link to an actual article in News.

How a native banner ad would look like in News.

How a native banner ad would look like in News.

Pulling in more publishers

Pulling in more publishers

To be sure, publishers have already been able to serve sponsored stories “natively” in News through their registered RSS feed, but they must see to it that those stories are properly labeled as such in their metadata.

Perhaps this new native banner ad format would to some extent entice more publishers to participate and prompt existing partner publishers to participate more in News, about which publishers have been said to be “underwhelmed” and “unhappy.”

Presumably to that same end, Apple has also been reportedly working to allow publishers to place subscription-only content in News.

Learn more about the prospect of subscription-only content in Apple News