May 20, 2013
Native Advertising: Traditional Advertising On Line
Last week, Mashable asked the question, "Is Native Advertising Just Another Term For Good Advertising?" The answer is no, not quite.
From what I can tell, native advertising is a horrible and misleading term that is being used to describe something that may actually turn out to be a good idea -- the application of traditional advertising principles to online advertising. Let me explain.
Online advertising was supposed to be interactive. It was supposed to rescue us from having to force people into looking at our ads. Consumers were going to want to interact with us, they were going to want to have conversations with marketers, they were going to want to have relationships with brands.
It was all fantasies and delusions based on naive interpretations of consumer behavior by people who had a whole lot of ideological commitment to the web, and very little experience with real world marketing.
Now we’ve learned that, for the most part, consumers want no part of interacting with online advertising. What we are calling "native advertising" is a recent reaction to this realization and to the very disappointing history of online advertising, particularly banner advertising.
Nobody seems quite sure what they mean by native advertising. But I think I know what they mean. They don't know it yet, but they mean using traditional advertising strategy on the web.
They mean that if you insert advertising into an appealing environment and you make the advertising entertaining or beautiful or interesting, you’re more likely to attract some attention from consumers. Which is the exact premise on which traditional advertising is built.
What is TV advertising about? It is about finding the most appealing programming and inserting into that programming messages that are either entertaining or interesting or beautiful.
Native advertising represents the marketing industry finally starting to grasp that consumers do not want to interact with banner ads, do not want to have conversations with brands, and do not want to have relationships with marketers.
It is still early days for this realization, and marketers don't quite know yet what they've realized. They think they have to trick people into seeing their advertising by pretending it's part of the content.
They don't yet understand that the effectiveness of "native advertising" -- just like all other forms of advertising -- is going to be proportional to how interesting, entertaining or beautiful they can make it.
Native advertising may represent the first stage of the marketing and advertising industry growing up and coming to terms with the fact that the best hope for online advertising is not pie-in-the-sky nonsense about conversations and relationships.
It is taking the traditional principles of interrupting and grabbing attention, and applying them to the web.
For more, check out the BeanCast podcast which I was on last night discussing this and other subjects.