Native Advertising: Innovative or Deceptive?

Native Advertising

As the years go on and our culture becomes more immersed in consumerism, it’s becoming more difficult to advertise in a traditional sense. The digital world has played a large role in this. It seems this online culture is making consumers more cunning to the advertising ways and the more time consumers spend online the less time they spend watching television, reading the newspaper, staring up at billboards. Advertisers now have to figure out way to get in front of their audience, when personal smart devices are monopolizing their audience’s attention. Technology is so advanced now that consumers have the ability to block ads or to skip past them. YouTube videos often offer viewers the opportunity to skip the ad after a few seconds to get to the video they came to watch. Another issue advertisers often face is that consumers have become so desensitized to ads all over the web, they don’t even notice them anymore.

This leads to one of the reasons why consumers often times have a hard time trusting ads. It’s widely known that consumers prefer to take advise from their friends, family, or even a fellow consumer they may not even know, rather than listen to an advertisement. With the growth in popularity of blogs and online editorials, advertisers have found a way to play off the widely consumed platforms and advertise to consumers, sometimes without them even knowing it.

The trend is called Native Advertising. This occurs when a company sponsors an advertorial that looks exactly like a regular blog post or online editorial. Hootsuite noted that popular site Buzzfeed and even Forbes magazine are guilty of this new trend. They state that these platforms are capitalizing on the desperate nature of brands seeking new ways to appeal to their consumers and allow them to publish paid for content among the site original content.

There has been some controversy over native advertising. Some call it despicable as it is hard to tell the difference as the reader is not looking for it, while others say there should be no issue as the work is noted as being sponsored or promoted by an interested brand. This clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is both hilarious and informative, though his points are often exaggerated, he does shed a light on the possible ethical dilemma surrounding the subject.

Native advertising began in print material but was easier to see through. It quickly jumped online with everyone and can be found in online advertorials, online video advertorials, and branded or sponsored content. Though this mode of advertising may catch some heat, it doesn’t always have to be seen that way. Damien Farnworth from Copyblogger compiled a list of examples of native advertisements and why they work. Make sure your content is represented as sponsored or branded, this shows that you’re not trying to be deceptive to your audience. Create content that is honest and is gear toward your intended audience. Make sure your advertising answers to their needs while giving you the actionable goal you set out for. Just like in any other relationship, the best practice is to be open and honest and think about the other person first, this follows true for the brand-consumer advertising relationship too.