#2 Native Ads – preserving the trust

Are you obvious enough?
Are you obvious enough?

What is a native ad? Remember the advertorial in magazines? Well, native advertising is the same thing. You publish an article that is sponsored or paid as if it were a regular article. The difference is you must flag it to the reader as “Promoted or Sponsored” and do so in an obvious way. A native ad has many benefits since it behaves like a normal article:

  • It shows up in Google search
  • It can be shared in social media
  • It shows up in mobile devices since it is part of the news stream
  • Since it is part of your article flow readers can’t ignore it as well as they filter banner ads

The New York Times who only recently has started selling native ads has reported that native advertising is already almost 10% of their digital revenue.

Wait native ads are misleading and stinky!

This John Oliver video will make you laugh. It’s funny, and in a completely satirical way, lambastes the entire native advertising movement. He points out that advertising and editorial are “church and state” and should never be mixed together. Is he right? Watch the video and keep reading below.

Since HBO uses a “100% subscription” model it’s easy to take a stance against native advertising, banner ads, video ads, really any sort of advertising… but I think he and HBO are completely wrong. Actually what I think might not really matter at all. Let’s consider a couple of facts debunking HBO’s “lack of native ads”:

  • HBO does advertise other shows (their own) and sports/boxing pay per view in front of their programming. Since these ads are baked in to your viewing experience you could consider it a form of native advertising.
  • Apple Inc’s computers and Chrysler’s Jeep vehicles are frequently seen in HBO’s popular shows and films. Product placement is considered native advertising (ads mixed into the content).

Consider John’s statement that 50% of a publications readership doesn’t realize they are reading a sponsored ad. I take that as 50% of publishers know how to be transparent and produce good sponsored ads that their readers notice… and that 50% of publishers suck at being transparent and try to hide their ads as editorial content.

What’s does this all boil down to?

Trust and how you handle your readers is the only thing that matters.

If you are careful to be obvious with your sponsored/native ads so there is no doubt that something is an ad then you will be one of the 50% of publishers that is getting it right.

And since native ads do produce good revenue income, you won’t want to break that trust and send readers running… oh and the FTC might be watching you