Native Advertising: Destroying your Internets or No?

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What is Native Advertising?

This is when the editorial is subtly selling a product and the aesthetic is made to closely resemble the look and feel of the site that it lives on. So without the user knowing, they’re actually interacting with an ad. It’s meant to walk a fine line of deception as to whether or not it’s an ad or if it’s a typical editorial. But, readers are getting smarter and beginning to realize that what they’re reading may not have the purest of intentions. So publishers are being forced to include a clear call-to-action or a clear “sponsored by” tag on editorials that were paid for by brands. With sponsored editorial regulations unclear and loosely monitored, there was a sizable backlash from the people consuming these ads.

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But Why Are You So Mad?

Content has stepped it up since “sponsored editorials” have started being used more often. I don’t think it was that sites paying to have their ads traditionally displayed in banners and pop-ups that angered people. Some brand is always paying for being promoted on a site, one way or another. I think, and comment if I am wrong here, that people are upset because they are being tricked to consume content under the pretense that there are no expectations. You read something because you like what you’re reading, not because a brand was subtly trying to sell you their product or services. Or in the case that the content just was not on-point and you didn’t have to read past the introduction to realize that it was a sponsored ad brought to you by a brand paying money to get in front of you.

But Will They Get Any Better?

These ads are getting more and more targeted and much better. Even after you have given in and read a whole story and you find out “The 10 Best Places to Camp in Minnesota” was only written to sell you a tent from some outdoorsy website, you’re ok with it. You just got some info that you actually wanted to read. You found out that there is a nice spot that is only a short drive from where you are living. And now, you are thinking you might need a new tent before the season starts. That’s what native ads are supposed to do.The good ones actually do it. Here are a few examples of publishers who do native advertising right.

Buzzfeed

How they get it right.

Consistency. Buzzfeed does a great job with native advertising because they don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. People love and devour their content and connect with it easily. They just add a branded element to the page and let you (the consumer) know that this listicle is “brought to you by” someone else.

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New York Times

How they get it right

Transparency. They come right out and say “Paid Post” on the header that drops with you as you scroll, so there are no questions that Netflix and OITNB sponsored this post. Not to mention that “Women Inmates: Separate But Not Equal” in particular is an informative and incredibly well-written piece that speaks to the reality of women in prison.

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SB Nation

How they get it right

User immersion. Nike teamed up with SB Nation to develop a section called First & Long. Once you are in, each click leads you further into the experience and lets you learn about and connect with the NFL stars.

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Watch videos, pep talks and even get a pep talk from your favorite contributor for a certain scenario on a certain day sent straight to your phone.

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When brands use this type of advertising it can be very effective, but it can also hurt both brand and publisher if not done correctly and without the reader in mind. What are some examples of native advertising have you seen and was it effective? Let us know in the comments.

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Jake Barker

Digital Marketing Coordinator
Jake is a Digital Marketing Coordinator at Customer Magnetism. When he is in the office you can find him brainstorming or creating content strategies with coffee in hand and various bags of chips at his desk. He also enjoys snowboarding and turn of the century pop punk.