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Stealthy Native Ads 'Have Been Around for Years'Over the last two weeks, during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, countless athletes released what at first seemed to be complimentary remarks about the products and services that helped to make their Olympic dreams a reality.

But don’t be fooled. Although there was, undoubtedly, sincerity behind the tweets, they weren’t organic messages spun directly from the heart. Many of those social media remarks were actually paid tweets.

Olympians are the celebrities of the hour and are looking to capitalize on massive sponsorship deals that are routinely based on their tweeting teed-up messages.

According to Toni Box, Director of Social Media at PM Digital, a digital marketing firm, this sort of thing has been going on for years now. Celebs being paid by sponsors to publish messages that look organic or legitimate to the general public is nothing new.

“Influential bloggers and celebrities have been doing this for brands for some time now, so it makes sense that athletes would be approached with the same social outreach method for brand lift,” Box tells NativeMobile.

The key, Box explains, is to disclose that the content is an actual ad, “so adding the #ad hashtag component is key.”

“Obviously, similar to blogger outreach,” the social media expert continues, “the sponsored content needs to be relevant – a product or service that actually makes sense for the athlete to socially endorse.  I.E. mommy bloggers often post sponsored tweets related to children’s products vs. home décor bloggers may post sponsored tweets for Home Goods, Kirklands, etc.”

While it isn’t known how much money sponsors shelled out in Sochi for native ad tweets, one thing is for sure. Plenty of athletes are coming home with far more “gold” than we realize.

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