Villing & Company

Going Native With Your Digital Marketing: It's Effective. Is It Fair?

Although the term "native advertising" has been around several years now, you may not be familiar with it or precisely sure what it means. Here's how Wikipedia defines it:

"Native advertising is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, an article written by an advertiser to promote their product, but using the same form as an article written by the editorial staff."

Back in the day (before digital marketing), we used to refer to this concept as an "advertorial." However, the rules for advertorials in terms of clearly identifying that it was a paid placement were fairly absolute. That's not always so with native advertising. But, first, let's talk about why native advertising has become so popular of late.

The reason is simple. It works.

Although there are many forms of digital marketing, one of the most visible is the traditional banner ad. Unfortunately, those are increasingly ineffective. A company called Solve Media says you are 87 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get accepted than click on a banner ad. By contrast, native advertising has proven much more effective at generating click-throughs than banner ads, particularly on mobile devices. As a result it is estimated by BI Intelligence that native advertising revenue will hit $7.5 billion this year – nearly triple what it was in 2013.

So clearly using native advertising is an effective thing for marketers to engage in. The question is, is it the right thing to do? In my opinion, the answer is, it depends.

As I mentioned earlier, in the days of advertorials, the rules were clear. Because of the nature of digital media, the lines have become increasingly blurred. Some channels make sponsored content readily identifiable. Others not so much. No one likes to be tricked. When consumers click on content only to find they have been baited into viewing an ad, it diminishes the relationship between the consumer and the marketer, as well as the publisher.

Eric Goeres, director of innovation at Time magazine put it this way, "Don't trick them. Don't piss them off."

At the end of the day, the proper use of native advertising is a matter of trust.

Filed Under: web

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