Mastering In-Feed Ads to Capture Attention

Irep Inc.

Do you have concerns such as “Unable to create banners because there is no designer” and “Operating it in-house seems difficult”? This time, we’ll focus on in-feed ads, introducing how to create banners and ad copy without advanced technical skills. Let’s delve into in-feed ads, which are a hot topic in the web advertising industry!

Basics of In-feed Ads and How they Work 

— In-feed Ad Basics 

If you’re considering implementing web advertising, you’ve probably heard the terms “in-feed ads” and “native ads” at least once. In-feed ads refer to advertising formats displayed between content on platforms such as social media and news media.

Figure 1: In-feed ad

Various media sites publish in-feed ads including Facebook, Twitter, SmartNews, Yahoo!. The market for in-feed ads is growing each year, so it’s worth checking out. 

Figure 2 : In-feed ad market size and prediction
Source: “Domestic in-feed ad market joint research” by Digital InFact. Published on February 15, 2018. 

In-feed ads are comprised of two parts: banners and ad copy. Let’s assume the user journey after encountering an ad.

Figure 3: The path users take when coming into contact with in-feed ads.
Source: SmartNews documentation

Firstly, the user’s attention is captured by the banner and the keywords within the ad copy, encouraging them to read the advertisement. Subsequently, the goal is to prompt the user to click on the ad.

While some display ads may not include ad copy, in the case of in-feed ads, the ad copy occupies a relatively large area of the ad space. Therefore, the influence of the ad copy itself is considered to be higher compared to other media formats.

— News Media in Focus 

In this chapter, we will focus on news-based platforms such as SmartNews to explain the concept of in-feed advertising.

Figure 4: User motivation for ads on various media
Source: Video research “ACRex” based on 7 locations (50km radius around Tokyo, Kansai, Nagoya, Northern Kyushu, Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima). Data from April to June 2020. 

Based on the results of the above research, it is evident that advertising on news-based platforms such as SmartNews tends to result in lower user stress levels and higher acceptance of ads, leading to a more positive change in user sentiment.

This can be attributed to the different motivations of users on each platform. In comparison to news-based platforms, social media platforms, which share the same in-feed advertising format, show a higher proportion of users feeling stressed by ads. This is likely because users browse social media with the motivation to “keep up with the latest updates from friends or celebrities,” causing ads displayed in between desired content to be perceived as “unnecessary information.”

On the other hand, users consuming news-based content are often motivated by the desire to “obtain interesting or valuable information.” Therefore, if there are intriguing ads, users are more likely to read them as “information” with relatively high enthusiasm. In other words, in advertising on news-based platforms, it is crucial to avoid disrupting the user experience and instead focus on capturing users’ interest.

Best Practices when Creating Banners 

— Points when Creating Banners 

You might feel that making banners is difficult, with all the photography and design involved. The point you should look out for is the characteristic feature of in-feed ads. Just as in-feed ads are also referred to as “native ads,” the key point in banner creation is the “lack of advertisement feeling.”

Let’s take a look at a comparison between designs that are more likely to succeed (yield results) with banners and those that are not, as a concrete example.

Figure 5: Effective banner ads for news media

Ads that are likely to perform well don’t have copy in the image. The image used also resembles one that any ordinary user would have taken on their own smartphone. The other image illustrates an image that looks like it was taken in a professional studio, given the lighting and background. You can also see small text in it. There’s more information on the image on the right and so it might resemble what most people think of when they hear the term “banner ad.” 

However, putting text that is supposed to appeal to users, as opposed to using a simple image, produced different results. When both ads were published at the same time, we found that the simpler image on the left had a much higher conversion rate.

The reason behind the results is because with in-feed ads, the key is making the image blend in with the rest of the content without interfering with the user experience. If you take a look at news media, you’ll find that the thumbnails for the primary news content (the banner portion for ads) is relatively simple. On SmartNews, the images used for product review articles are often pictures taken by the authors themselves. That’s why when you have the complicated image on Figure 5 as a banner ad, users will deem the content to be irrelevant, causing them to ignore it. 

Taking photos in professional studios costs money and designing takes time and effort. However, with in-feed ads, simple banners tend to blend in better, so if you have your product and a photo editing software, use your smartphone to take a picture and use the software to edit the image size to save money when creating your banner.

— Size Regulations

Figure 6
*1: Minimum pixel size. Aspect ratio of 1.91:1. Recommended pixel size is 2400 x 1256 pixels. 
*2: Information as of April 25, 2022. Check the official website of the media platform for the latest information. 

Most news media sites use the same size for images, so if you create one set of banners, you can use them across multiple platforms. 

Now that we’ve covered the best practices for creating banners, let’s take a look at the ad copy. 

Best Practices when Writing Copy 

— The Purpose of Ad Copy 

The ad copy, displayed between news articles, serves as a “hook” that captures users’ attention and prompts them to click further, without being overshadowed by other content. Similar to banners, ad copies with a strong “advertisement (corporate) feel” are more likely to be ignored by users compared to expressions that mimic “user-generated content.” In an era where web advertising has become commonplace, users have developed a higher literacy level and tend to avoid information with a strong advertising tone. Therefore, creating ad copies that do not disrupt the browsing experience is crucial.


Ad copy that feels “corporate”: “Join now and receive ◯◯ gift! Only with △△ (company name)” 
Ad copy that feels user generated: I really earned XXX! This promotion campaign is incredible. 

— Forms and Appeals of Ad Copy 

It can be said that there are infinite variables that contribute to the success of ad copy, including wording and content. Therefore, creating ad copy randomly may lead to difficulty in understanding what specifically contributed to the success of a particular ad copy, even if it yields good results. At IREP, we employ the approach of “Pattern” and “Appeal” to define variables in advance and find winning patterns in order to consistently create effective ad copy.


A “pattern” refers to the expression and presentation of the text. It’s important to grasp the expression trends in the news media market to make the expressions blend in with the other content.. To create a form, collect headlines from the market’s news and ad copy from other companies, modify them into a more versatile form, and apply them accordingly. Let’s take a look at some specific examples.

Original ad text (example) 
-Friend: “Where’d you buy it?” Check our fashionable bags. 
-Have you heard of this trending facial cleanser? 

Edited to pattern: 
[Line] XX YY Check out ZZ 
[Question] Have you heard of XX? 

Streamlining phrases as forms and reducing the variables will enable more accurate verifications of results. 


In order to select appeals to be combined with the forms, it’s a good idea to have a list of your company’s selling points in a few words. The following is an example of an appeal for a fictitious service. 

Figure 7: Examples of appealing phrases

Figure 8: Examples of combining forms and appeals to create ad copy

By defining variables in advance like this, we can identify winning patterns and winning messages. Once we have identified winning patterns and messages, we can then produce ad copies in large quantities using the winning combinations.

Other Formats 

There’s also a format called carousel ads in media such as SmartNews. A carousel ad is one in which multiple banners are displayed within a single ad. 

Figure 9: Example of a carousel ad

Because of its compatibility with the format, carousel ads are often used in manga-related products, but this format can also be used in other products to show multiple products and convey the appeal of products to users through a storyline. Once you see a certain effective pattern in terms of feeds, you might want to try out carousels.


We have introduced how to create banners and ad copy for in-feed advertising on news-based platforms.

In addition to the content we’ve covered today, our company has accumulated many other tips and media trends. If you have any questions or concerns about implementing in-feed advertising, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Irep Inc. is an award-winning global digital marketing agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our headquarters are in Tokyo and our network spans more than 20 countries. In Japan, we are ranked No. 1 for performance-based marketing. We also offer highly specialized market entry, as well as integrated marketing and localization services. Since 1997, our data-driven solutions have effectively led our diverse international clientele to continuous success in Japan, Asia, and beyond.

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