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Native Advertising: Hype or Help?

In general, marketers are innovators. But today’s buzz is all about a form of advertising posing as an innovation, when in fact it is a derivation of something invented in 1946. The imposter?  Native Advertising.

Not exactly sure what that is? According to Wikipedia, native advertising is defined as “an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience.” Native ads match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. That means native advertising is an article that is written by an advertiser but looks exactly like a staff reporter’s work. In other words, it is paid content that actually looks like the free content. And we all know Content is King.

But wait a minute. Advertising that is disguised as editorial? Haven’t we seen that before? Well, yes and no. For those of us who have been in the marketing business for a while, we recognize this method as an advertorial. Or well done public relations. Or white papers.

But the difference between Native Advertising and Advertorials is that the publisher is now in on the game. It seems the Chinese firewall between editorial and advertising sales is coming down – even at venerable publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. With veritably unlimited content competition from all corners of the internet and declining revenue streams, we think the dawn of thinly-disguised paid content was only a matter of time. But before you hire a native advertising agency, consultant, or staffer, we would recommend looking to your marketing agency to see if native can be an adjunct to your current content efforts.