The Best Native Ads of 2017

Gustaf Stenlund | December 18, 2017

 
Wow, how is it already time to review 2017’s best native ads? This year has flown by!
 
I do love this time of year though; being able to take a step back and look at the year in review reveals which path the industry has taken and makes me wonder: where are we going next?
 
So, how did we make sure we surfaced the best ads?
 
Each week of the year, we share the latest campaigns of the week in This Week in Native Ads. We also measure thousands of native campaigns throughout the year.
 
From these, we were able to cherry-pick the best native ads of the year.
 
This may sound like an easy task, but it’s not – the bar keeps rising year on year.
 
So how do you rise above? Exceptional storytelling, great concepts and a smooth experience. Some ads with nice executions didn’t make the cut as they were over-engineered, rather than telling a simple clear story. Story, story story.
 
If you haven’t seen the best native ads for prior years, check them out here: 2016 and 2015.
 
This year’s categories are as follows:
 
Alcohol, Automotive, Creative, eCommerce, Entertainment, Finance, Food & Drink, Integration, Local, Luxury, Native for Native, Strategy, Tech/Software, Travel.
 
Congratulations to this year’s winners:
 

 
Read on as we share why we picked the winners, notable mentions and relevant resources for the different categories.
 

Best Creative: Honest Back To College Shopping List

CollegeHumor [Best Creative] - Best Native Ads 2017



Here’s a fun, creative piece by CollegeHumor. They share an Honest Back to College Shopping List for Prime Student. Neat.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 8/18
 
Relevant resources: How Native Can Get More Creative
 

Best Local: A Beginner’s Guide to Judging Beer

We liked this piece on Philly.com. It’s a beginner’s guide to judging beer, which is promoting a local event to find Philly’s favorite craft beer. This shows not all native is about big flashy executions; smart local executions are the long tail of content – and relevant to their audience. Win/Win.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 5/12
 
Relevant resources: The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with Native Advertising & How to Win at Native Advertising Before You’ve Even Started.
 

Best Strategy: 3 principles Disney uses to keep its customers happy

Here’s a simple and straightforward piece by Disney Institute on Business Insider – the 3 principles Disney uses to keep its customers happy. Great stuff.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 3/31
 
Notable mention: By Carbonite on Business Insider, 4 pieces of advice new business owners should ignore
 

Best Integration: Runner Comes Excruciatingly Close to Breaking Two-Hour Marathon Barrier

IntegrationNike + National Geographic [Best Integration] - Best Native Ads 2017

Runners Aim to Shatter ‘Unbreakable’ Two-Hour Marathon Barrier – a great campaign by Nike + National Geographic. It has fantastic visuals that lifts the entire piece, along with some amazing storytelling.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 5/5
 
Relevant resources: How brands like Heineken can successfully integrate into entertainment
 

Best Alcohol: One for the road: the story of an unlikely and innovative partnership

Glenmorangie and The Telegraph tapped into the up-cycling trends and used whisky casks to make a wooden bike. Nice idea, extended story, use of article + video (our data proves this converts better) and brand is well integrated.
 
Relevant resources: How Alcohol Brands Win at Native
 

Best Automotive: Stop Dreaming, Start Driving: Why now is the Time to Acquire your Dream Car

Airows + Esurance [Best Automotive] - Best Native Ads 2017

Airows and Esurance are selling the dream of your dream car. Simple, personable and relatable. Not over the top in production and does the job; this is what the bulk of native content should be like.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 1/6
 
Relevant resources: How Automotive Brands Win at Native
 

Best eCommerce: How 1 Fashion Director and Mom Wears Her Sneakers: the Stylish Way

Mom Sneaker Outfits by New Balance + PopSugar. The way they’ve blended native and ecommerce truly makes for a great user experience. Nailed it.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 7/21
 
Notable mentions: By Asos on Bustle, 5 ASOS Spring Break Styles That Aren’t As Tricky To Wear As You Think
 
Relevant resources: How Fashion Brands Win at Native
 

Best Entertainment: Power Rangers, the Movie

All Def Digital and the Power Rangers movie has effectively lifted the movies brand with this Facebook video campaign. This is a great example when it comes to crafting an effective brand message and proving that they really know their target audience.
 
Relevant resources: How Entertainment Brands Win at Native
 

Best Finance: In the Zone – How Traders Maintain Discipline and Sharpen Their Skills

 E*Trade + WSJ [Best Finance] - Best Native Ads 2017

This is a good piece by E*Trade on WSJ. It’s well-targeted and perfect for potential E*Trade customers. We especially like the little surveys mid-way through, which are immediately responsive.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 10/13
 
Relevant resources: How Finance Brands Win at Native
 

Another Best Finance: The Trust Economy

This is a sponsored piece by Charles Schwab on The Atlantic. They have done a great job of introducing the development of key concepts such as investment, accountability and technology, in chronological order. The content layout is concise and easy to follow.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 10/27
 
Relevant resources: How Finance Brands Win at Native
 

Another Best Finance: $1 Million is Closer Than you Think

Vanguard and T Brand Studio tell their audience that $1m is closer than you think. We like the straightforward storytelling, ‘how close am I?’ and ‘what can I do to get there faster?’
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 10/27
 
Relevant resources: How Finance Brands Win at Native
 

Best Food & Drink: The Perfect Sip

Tropicana on T Brand Studio [Best Food & Drink] - Best Native Ads 2017

Tropicana on T Brand Studio. We liked how they weave Terroir into the narrative, something I’ve not heard associated with juice – but nice work showing how a story helps elevate a brand.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 4/7
 
Relevant resources: How Food & Drink Brands Win at Native
 

Another Best Food & Drink: Here’s What Happens When Six Different Artists Draw The Exact Same Thing

BuzzFeed with Perrier. This reminded us of the Stella Artois work partnering with artists to create their bottles a couple of years back. Best practice with article + video too, which we know, from Nudge data, converts better.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 6/9
 
Relevant resources: How Food & Drink Brands Win at Native
 

Best Luxury: Louis Vuitton’s City Guide

Louis Vuitton + CNN [Best Luxury] - Best Native Ads 2017

Louis Vuitton partners with CNN to launch their City Guides app. The experience brings it to the desktop with a Viewmaster like execution, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 5/26
 
Relevant Resources: How Luxury Brands Win at Native
 

Best Technology/Software: How to Save Time, Bend Space and Get Smarter at Work

Slack on NY Times. A direct product pitch, not what you’d normally see from T Brand studio. Good from a technology company.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 8/11
 
Relevant resources: How Technology Brands Win at Native
 

Best Travel: The Caribbean Beyond the Beach

Royal Caribbean with T Brand Studio. On a day like today – where would you rather be?
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 2/10
 
Relevant resources: How Travel & Tourism Brands Win at Native
 

Best Native for Native: As Programmatic Native Turns Two, so Begins a Transformation of Ad Strategies

The Drum + Sharethrough [Best Native for Native] - Best Native Ads 2017

This is nativeception at its finest, by our friends over at The Drum + Sharethrough. Read as they share their take on the evolution of ad strategies in a very clear and concise manner.
 
Featured in: This Week in Native Ads 8/25
 
That’s it!
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s best native ads. Let us know if you think we missed any of your favorites!

 


How to Win at Branded Content

Advertisers Publishers