It’s difficult to not open a web browser today without seeing some type of press about native advertising, what it is, how it can be used and why it may well be the next “big” marketing phenomena.
The idea behind native advertising – to create content that’s so compelling that it brings consumers to webpages like bees to honey and allows them to connect to brands at the same time – is seen as the ideal advertising format by many marketers.
Marketers obviously look at things much differently than publishers, many of who are deeply suspicious about native advertising and are deeply passionate about protecting the line between editorial content and advertising content. Many question whether advertisers can really create content that is truly engaging in the first place.
And then, of course, there is the FTC and their lawyers, ready to pounce on marketers who “cross the line” and dare to offer their native advertising without specific, pronounced and highly visible warnings. Funny thing is, however, that when confronted with native advertising that truly hits the mark, your average attorney really doesn’t seem to have a problem with it at all.
What’s even funnier is that there’s such a heavy and imposing focus on marketers by the FTC, and their duty to properly disclose native advertising to Internet users. This goes to the “fundamental right” that consumers have of knowing exactly what they’re viewing and whether or not it’s actual editorial content or simply advertising. This assumes, of course, that the average reader doesn’t have the intelligence to determine the difference on their own.
The worry is that the beauty of native ads will be destroyed by loud, obtrusive and annoying disclosures, something that in the end may not be necessary at all except for the most naïve of consumers. You can be certain that in the next weeks and months there will be progress and ongoing debate. What’s uncertain, of course, is what the final outcome will be.