The original "native advertising" was introduced by Google, in the form of search engine advertising. Since then, the concept has had some time and space to evolve, meaning that today there are three primary forms of native advertising to choose from.
1. Sponsored Content
The first, and perhaps most obvious option, is sponsored content. Videos and articles that appear on popular websites that have already generated a significant following online, such as "Wired", or "Buzzfeed". The content on these websites are designed to mimic the feel and style of other editorial content, but behind that façade is a promotional intent - someone who is looking to sell to you.
The idea is to offer something so entertaining, that your consumers forget they're watching an advertisement in the first place. However, for many small businesses, sponsored content isn't really something that can be achieved, and done well. Rather, sponsored content is the primary option for bigger brands like Purina and Virgin Air. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't other forms of native advertising that might work better.
2. Recommended Content
Are you more likely to go out of your way to watch a random video, or one that your friend, or trusted acquaintance has already recommended to you? Content recommendation engines are making recommended content more of a realistic opportunity for companies around the web. On CNN.com, this shows up in the "around the web" links, that blend almost seamlessly with the rest of the experience of reading an article or visiting a page.
Testing has shown that having the right shout out from a relevant brand can make all the difference to businesses of any size, helping to draw extra traffic to content.
3. In-Feed Social Ads
Finally, in-feed social advertising is perhaps the best place to start if you're new to native advertising options. You can set up your experience with in-feed native ads within a matter of minutes (usually less than an hour), and as a marketing solution, it's cheap and easy to manage. In-Feed ads promote something while promising value to the person who's reading the ad. Although it may not contain a direct offer, it should lead you to a page that asks for further information, or takes you deeper into the sales funnel.
It's not just Facebook that's open to native marketers anymore, either, in-feed ads are now available on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even YouTube in the form of quick ads that appear before the intended video.