A number of studies in recent years have found that 50-70% of Google search users can/do not distinguish between query result ads or organic results; further that as various retention artifacts, i.e. answer/knowledge box, local 3-pack, clutter/confuse/distract the results page search users become less likely to make a distinction.
Note: this trend is also aggravated by/associated with an increase in ad blend-in.
The above is not likely new to most here at WebmasterWorld, however what many may not realise is that a similar blindness/unawareness exists with native advertising when done well.
Note: when NOT done well it becomes comic caricature.
So as not to run afoul of various jurisdictional requirements some form of labelling is typically necessary. Much to my initial grimace, years ago, I found that native ad labelling has negligible negative consequences. So long as the ad matches the look, feel, and function of the site. Some visitors, possibly a majority, are oblivious to the labelling and simply view it as more site content. Others notice the labelling but give ad content a goodwill benefit derived from site main content. Very few (1-3% on my sites) immediately back out or otherwise leave.
There are a few provisos:
* the site main/unpaid content must be of sufficient value to create transferable goodwill aka trust to the ad content.
Note: ye olde bog standard site tends to create little to no goodwill; as a rule of thumb, if a visitor does not feel compelled to ever return to a site neither does it build goodwill.
* the ad content must be of similar look, feel, function - and value - as the main content.
Note: the more it feels and works like part of the site the more it IS part of the site.
* the labelling must be explicit yet not 'hazardous' aka scare the visitor away.
Note: my label is 'Advertising Supplement' with a dek of 'By BRAND to MySITE's Quality Control Requirements'.
Note: the text 'Quality Control Requirements' is a modal link detailing the requirements to ensure value as content. Basically selling the advertisement as content of value.
Note: don't hide what something is, be proud of it. Properly produced brand provided ad content is equivalent to a celebrity guest blogger. EG: if a guest post by Brett Tabke is valuable content then so too can be a native ad by PubCon - when done well.
Of course, as usual, most native advertising is NOT done well, rather it is blatant comic caricature in one's face at various cross purposes to the look, feel, and function of the site. Often, as with bad content marketing née blog guest posting the same thang is published on multiple sites with minimal to no attempt to fit in with any site or even niche. And immediately transforms from native advertisement to late night advertorial.
When done correctly native advertising converts at 25-40%. That is, up to four in ten that land on a native ad convert. And that is why native advertising has been growing in advertiser popularity, albeit most botching their attempts, and in value.
And then there is product placement... ah, scrumpdillyicious!
Once you go direct you'll never go back!