At I/O 2016, AdMob announced Native Ads Express, a new way to implement native ads that offers some useful advantages. With Native Ads Express, publishers create CSS templates with styling information like font names, colors, and so on, and the server uses those templates to create finished ads. Building ads this way means the work of laying out all the elements happens in the cloud, not on the device. The result is an ad format that fits somewhere between a native ad and a traditional banner, but still offers publishers a seamless, natural presentation.
If you watched the AdMob I/O session on native ads, or you've checked out the guides and samples, you're probably familiar with the implementation details at this point. What you might not be sure about, though, is exactly what this new format offers your apps, and how to know if it's right for you, so here are the key benefits of Native Ads Express:
Less mobile code required
Because ad presentation is handled at the server level, a lot of the work is done automatically. Publishers don't need to manually inflate ad layouts, instantiate UIViews, or pull asset data out of ad objects--all things normally done in mobile code on the device. With those tasks gone, there's not that much required code left. For example, the Android sample for Native Ads Express needs just one layout element and two lines of Java to display an ad.
Change ad layouts without redeploying
Your CSS templates live on the server, not within the app itself. That means if you decide you want to tweak a background color or move the call to action button, you can log into the AdMob console and update your CSS code or even switch templates entirely. Hit save, and you'll start seeing the new design in production, with no redeploy to the App Store or Play Store required.
Flexible sizes mean your layouts feel natural across devices
Native Express ad units have size categories rather than rigidly defined sizes. Publishers can use different height and width values to make requests to a single ad unit, and the responsive creative will flex to fill it properly. That means devices with different screen sizes can have an ad that looks just right, with only one ad unit required.
They're great for scrolling content regions
Impressions aren't recorded for a Native Express ad until it's actually displayed, meaning they're ideal for use in RecyclerView- and UICollectionView-based interfaces. Publishers can load Native Express ads in advance of a scroll without worrying that false impressions will affect their clickthrough rate.
The CSS editor features a live preview
After picking a base template for your ads, the CSS editor in the AdMob console shows you a live preview while you customize. If you tweak the font family for one of the elements, you'll see that change take effect on a sample ad right there in your browser. The same goes for colors, sizes, you name it. Plus, the editor can validate the templates for publisher policy concerns. On the odd chance there's an issue, it'll be caught and clearly explained.
We've got a bunch of resources to help
As always, if you have technical questions about the Mobile Ads SDK, you're welcome to stop by our support forum.