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.


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Cecil B Demille said...

I wouldn't even call it "traditional advertising principles." I'd call it "functional ad principles." Or just plain common sense. The opposite of blind fanaticism.

Mike M said...

It's possible that Don Draper invented native advertising last night. Whatever he was conceptualizing about, "it's big".

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nano said...

Handily, the way many use the internet, there's an audience actually *seeking* to be interrupted.

Kate Richardson said...

That Target example of 'native advertising' in the Mashable piece looks suspiciously like an advertorial to me. Yup, those things that have run in magazines for decades. I'm not sure why we need to invent a new term for this.

Also if you want to extend the definition of 'native advertising' to ads that are unique to their context, I can't see anything new about this either.

Maybe it's more that we're all waking up the the banner ad delusion.

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Adrian Goodsell said...

I've always thought that the idea of 'native advertising' (and even the meaning of the adverb) more closely correlates to something akin to product placement rather than traditional program advertising.
The advertisement break is the issue here; it creates a difference between what's inside the content (gets attention) and what's outside (gets ignored).
The best native advertising should be virtually indistinguishable from its surroundings. That's never really been the case on TV has it?

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"inserting into that programming messages that are either entertaining or interesting or beautiful" or fart jokes.

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Rebecca Caroe said...

Guys, guys less heat and more analysis needed! Native advertising is not product placement, nor is it broadcast-type advertising.
It is narrative storytelling paid for by a brand. As such, it's written - often longform - and so is more closely aligned with BTL disciplines.

Engaging content, well-written and delivered into the consumer's news feed is the objective. It remains to be seen whether this can be achieved.

I've been doing B2B content writing for years - I call it business development because it starts the journey down the sales funnel for new prospects. It works. Go speak to your B2B and BTL colleagues for a demonstration.

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Shanghai61 said...

'Native advertising' sounds a bit like 'native art'. Same vision and objectives, but much cruder in execution.

Breslavsky said...

So at last we know which half of the money spent on advertising is wasted - the half spent on digital-utopian-engagement-content-conversation-interaction dreams.