Many advertisers and web publishers are going to use the increasing use of ad blockers as an excuse to start mixing more "native" advertising in with news and editorial, so today I took some time to gather links into the start of a notebook on the topic.
Who & What
Native Advertising is the term used to describe articles published by websites and print periodicals that were either written by an advertiser or written to that advertiser's requirements.
Unlike most articles, which are (hopefully) written just to inform, native advertising is published "with the specific intent to promote a product, while matching the form and style which would otherwise be seen in the work of the platform's editorial staff" (Wikipedia).
Here's one example over at Forbes.
... to find more information
Speaking of which, the FTC published new guidelines last month concerning native advertising. The new rules expand upon the existing rules on how bloggers are required to disclose the freebies and other compensations they receive from advertisers and other companies (because those freebies could bias coverage, obviously).
The tl;dr version is that FTC regulations say that native advertising has too be clearly identified as such. For your reference:
That PDF was published in 2013, so it is a little out of date. But it is also the most current source of info on the topic.
... am I posting this now?
It occurred to me today that I don't know how prevalent native advertising is because, so far as I can tell, a lot of it is not adequately labeled.
For example, ESPN was recently faulted when its staffers tweeted paid tweets and did not disclose that fact, and remember when that Instagram star quit back in October (and in doing so, revealing that some of her photos were paid adverts)?
Those are just two examples off the top of my head; there are bound to be many more.
So in the interest of helping everyone become more informed readers, I thought it would be useful to point out that detail and get everyone looking more closely at what they read.
Buzzfeed, for example, is one web publisher that has a close relationship with advertisers, so much so that you often can't tell where the ads start and the content ends.
Is this Buzzfeed post native advertising, and if so is it adequately labeled?
You tell me.
And while we're on the topic, the Forbes link above lists the advertiser as the author but does not explicitly call out the content as advertisements, and so it arguably does not meet FTC guidelines (but that point could be argued both ways).
2016 is the year that readers will have to ask themselves whether that blog post, FB update, tweet,on Instagram photo is original content or is really a disguised advert.
If you think it is an ad, and it's not labeled as such, feel free to ask. The publisher will have to disclose that fact, but you should also be prepared to get yelled at if you are wrong. Some publishers don't do native advertising, and they will get pretty pissed if you suggest otherwise.
But don't let that discourage you. If people don't ask this question then the advertisers who are breaking the rules will continue to do so.
And that doesn't help anyone.
images by northbaywanderer,