February 03, 2016

Native Advertising - Just More Online Corruption

The online advertising industry is a corrupt shit show unprecedented in advertising history.

Just to recap some of the sleaze it has engendered and some of the ways it has undermined corporate and media decency:
  • Despite industry lip service about cutting down on online ad fraud, Business Insider reported a few weeks ago that it will grow to over 7 billion dollars this year.
  • Billions of fraudulent impressions are paid for by advertisers every day.
  • Untold numbers of phony clicks are monetized and charged to advertisers.
  • "Unviewable" ads are paid for by advertisers but are invisible to live human beings.
  • Phony websites are selling ad space to clueless advertisers through impenetrable ad networks.
  • Online content is being debased into a relentless click-bait festival.
  • The web has become an exasperating non-stop marketing machine.
Now online advertisers are mainstreaming what used to be a sleazy practice. There have always been media operators who would offer advertisers editorial or on-air mentions in exchange for a media buy. Or they would sell "advertorials" -- ads disguised as editorial.

They've dressed it up with a lovely name -- native advertising -- but it's nothing new.

What's new is that it is now widely accepted by "quality" media. All the predictions are that native advertising will grow substantially in 2016. The mainstreaming of this wretched practice has been propelled by the growing consumer ad blocking revolt.

The acceptance of native advertising by once-decent media like The New York Times should be alarming, but apparently isn't to any but a few of us. I guess when you’re going broke, any source of income is acceptable, regardless of how it undermines your principles.

This is a very disturbing development for citizens. The co-mingling of political agendas and news has infected our broadcast outlets (Fox, MSNBC) and in 2016 the conflation of advertising and editorial is expected to take a quantum leap forward.

A few weeks ago, the FTC issued guidelines about native advertising.  I expect these will be largely ignored. The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau, or as I like to call them, Inactive Advertising Bureau) is already whining about the guidelines. According to Ad Age...
"The IAB singled out for criticism... a section that calls for advertisers to use "plain language" in labeling an ad as such."
Yeah, imagine calling something what it really is? That would be complete anathema to the charming culture and history of online advertising.

When I checked my Facebook page today, despite the FTC's guidelines, Facebook is still using bullshit like "Suggested Post" to disguise ads.

Online advertising seems to corrupt everything it touches.

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