All Things Digital

Monday 16, March 2015

Native Advertising

So if we’ve heard correctly it’s not advertorial and it’s not sponsorship… So what exactly is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is the term being given to branded content placed within third-party editorial sites. It “goes native" because it’s created for its editorial surroundings, in contrast to the simple, same-everywhere ad.

Native advertising is targeted content, sitting alongside the publisher's content, which is produced by the brands themselves.

Despite all the hype surrounding native advertising it still remains a foreign concept to a large majority of marketers. According to Demian Farnworth in a 2014 status report supplied by  

  • 49 percent of respondents don’t know what native advertising is
  • 24 percent are hardly familiar with it
  • Another 24 percent are somewhat familiar
  • Only 3 percent are very knowledgeable

Despite this ambiguity native advertising is proving to be both highly popular and incredibly effective. 

The infographic featured below was created by Sharethrough a technology company specialising in online advertising, it details the measured effectiveness of native advertising.  

Publishers are being driven to support sponsored content as the number of people clicking on banner ads declines.  The abundance of available advertising space is also making it more difficult to make money from traditional online advertising.

One of the key differences between traditional online ads and native ads is that native ads are more directed to going viral. The content may be written, filmed or even curated. For example check out this smartphone video clip featuring 15 Unwritten Rules of the Beach, that Virgin placed on the BuzzFeed site. The clips are pretty hilarious and therefore something to send to your friends (Let’s be honest the idea of sharing a banner ad is not very appealing).

Jonah Peretti, the co-founder and chief executive of BuzzFeed announced at a digital advertising conference in February that, “There was a period where newspapers had monopolies, and they made money. Now what we are faced with is a very different industry that has shifted, and we need to elevate advertising”.

So native advertising is the new buzz term and people are excited.

In the case of The Atlantic’s Church Of Scientology sponsored post, maybe a little too excited…

In early 2013 The Atlantic issued a simple apology for publishing an advertisement by the Church of Scientology that resembled a regular post in the renowned magazine: it read simply, “We screwed up.”

The page titled “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year” was labelled as “sponsor content” but was disguised as a blog post detailing the church’s expansion. After complaints from reporters it was taken down from The Atlantic’s website after less than 24 hours.

The Atlantic said that, “it shouldn’t have taken a wave of constructive criticism — but it has — to alert us that we’ve made a mistake, possibly several mistakes. We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way.”


Is native advertising legal?

David Rodnitzky is the founder and CEO of 3Q, a digital agency based in San Francisco. In his article, Is Native Advertising Legal? Does It Matter?  Rodnitzky makes three controversial statements surrounding native advertising:

  1. Native advertising likely violates Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules on deceptive advertising.
  2. Native advertisers and publishers will profit tremendously from these violations and receive little to no punishment or regulation from the FTC
  3. This concept, which he calls “regulatory arbitrage,” has been proven to be highly profitable, having been proven by many other Internet businesses.

Despite the potential violations and boundary crossing, Rodnitzky is intent to not take it all too seriously.

“But here’s where I think this whole debate about whether native advertising is compliant with the FTC is particularly interesting – it just doesn’t matter. You heard me right: nothing the FTC can or will do will impact offenders for past violations of the FTC’s own regulations or substantially limit their future opportunity.

I say this for two reasons. First, because native advertising takes advantage of the notion of plausible deniability – that because no regulation existed specifically to prevent native advertising, it’s hard to prove or even assert that companies intentionally violated FTC rules.

And generally speaking, whenever you can only prove “actus reus” (the act of committing a crime) and not “mens rea” (the intent to commit a crime), you can’t convict someone. Indeed, the FTC has not issued any regulations on native advertising and has really only had one public forum on the topic held in December of 2013”.

Enough said.

At OnQue Digital our creative director Robbie Ayoub is, in similarity to Rodnitzky, not just focused on the controversial con's of native advertising.

Actually, Robbie believes native advertising can prove highly beneficial to Digital Marketing Campaigns and segmentation specific content.

What do you think?

Please let us know your take on the native advertising debate in the comment section below.

Native Advertising

So if we’ve heard correctly it’s not advertorial and it’s not sponsorship… So what exactly is Native Advertising?