Truth Is Just Perception

Native Advertising Set To Revolutionize Marketing And Maybe Journalism

For better or for worse?

The format and location of native ads in any digital media outlet (website, social network, mobile application…) are identical to those of non-commercial content – whether text, photos or videos. The purpose of native advertising is indeed to have consumers take bladders (advertising content) for lanterns (editorial content). Native ads follow in the footsteps of advertorial. But they benefit from the unique content creation and integration capabilities offered by digital technologies.

Native advertising belongs to what I call “chameleon marketing.” I consider that chameleon marketing is interruption marketing’s answer to the advent of permission marketing. Interruption marketing, epitomized by TV commercials, is the traditional model in which ads interrupt the consumption of content. Permission marketing, epitomized by brand engagement on social networks, is the new model in which consumers give brands permission to interact with them.

In this context, chameleon marketing allows advertisers to have more control of their message on digital media. Brands were used to having such control when interruption marketing was the norm. Today, permission marketing takes it away from them and gives it to consumers.

(CC) greenkayak73

(CC) greenkayak73

In a report (only available by subscription) recently published by BI Intelligence, Jan Rezab, CEO of Social Bakers, a company that analyzes the impact of marketing campaigns on the web, says that all advertising on social networks will be native in the future.

In addition to what I have explained above, there are two more reasons that justify this claim:

  • Native advertising is ideally suited to mobile devices. Other forms of digital advertising, first and foremost banners, are far less effective on mobile (as Facebook learned at their expense).
  • Native advertising provides a similar experience to users on desktop and mobile devices. This allows advertisers to enhance their relationship with consumers while implementing transversal – and therefore more cost-effective – campaigns.

The irrepressible growth of mobile usage thus gives a huge momentum to native advertising.

However, because it blurs the distinction between journalism and marketing, native advertising challenges two-century-old journalistic principles when implemented on news sites. The merger of commercial and non-commercial content is obviously less harmful when it affects non-news content.

As it happens, the New York Times has just announced the creation of a native advertising platform on their website (source: AdAge). Like every other news outlet, the famed paper needs to find a way to compensate for the steep decline of banner revenues, driven down by the development of programmatic advertising.

Native ads are expected to appear on the redesigned New York Times site in 2014. The Company insists that native ads will be clearly identified as marketing messages and differentiated from editorial content. But it will offer creative services to advertisers so that their ads benefit from the same storytelling quality as the paper’s articles. The creative team will be completely separated from the newsroom.

The question is whether or not all news media outlets will be as scrupulous and responsible as the New York Times. Nothing – not even an ad revenue boost – is of higher value to the Gray Lady than its ethical reputation. Will this be the case for its less successful competitors?

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