‘Native advertising’ digital magic of the hour
by Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian), San Francisco Bay You ready for the new online advertising miracle?
The digital advertising hype-cycle is growing shorter all the time. Apparently the online lemmingocracy has grown tired of “content” as the digital magic of the hour. Now it’s all about “native advertising.”
What is native advertising? Well, according to Solve Media…
“Native advertising refers to a specific mode of monetization that aims to augment user experience by providing value through relevant content delivered in-stream.”
Now let’s pretend for a minute that we live on the planet Earth and we talk in a language that is comprehensible. Here’s what that bullshit means:
Native advertising is advertising that is pretending to be something else.
It’s Promoted Tweets on Twitter, and Sponsored Stories on Facebook, and any other kind of online advertising that the publisher is disguising as part of a story or part of their content.
Desperate magazine publishers used to do stuff like this. If you bought a large enough ad schedule they’d sneak some positive mentions of your product into their editorial pages. It wasn’t called native advertising. It was called unscrupulous bullshit. And you didn’t have to pay for it.
So here’s what is really going on. We are at the beginning of Stage 3 of digital delusional thinking.
Stage 1 started when we believed that online advertising would be more engaging and effective because people would “interact” with it. This delusion crumbled when we found that people had no interest whatsoever in interacting with display advertising.
In order to cover our tracks, we needed a new story. So Stage 2 was developed. We decided that online advertising was really a “social” activity. We proclaimed that consumers wanted to have “conversations” about brands with each other and with us. This delusion died the day Facebook went public.
Now we are in Stage 3. Once again, we need to cover our tracks. We need to have a new story to tell our clients and change the subject from why we wasted their money on social media marketing.
Stage 3 started with “content.” But now that content is being exposed as just another over-hyped online daydream, “native advertising” is evolving. And what is it? It is really just advertising disguised as content.
Does this stuff work? Adweek doesn’t seem to think so. In a story they published a while back…
“…a new survey…asked online adults what they thought about three native ad formats—Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Stories on Facebook and video ads that appear to be content.
According to the survey, a majority found the ads negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised.
People had the strongest reaction to sponsored video ads, with 85 percent saying they negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand. Sixty-two percent said the same of Promoted Tweets and 72 percent of Sponsored Stories.
The survey also revealed that 45 percent found Promoted Tweets misleading, while 57 percent and 86 percent said the same about Sponsored Stories and video ads, respectively.”
Of course, the data in this study is all self-reported, so the study itself is pretty much useless. But it’s an indication that “native advertising” is gaining traction as the new miracle du jour.
So get ready for a blizzard of bullshit about the magic of native advertising. And be prepared for every client bandwagoneer to insist that his advertising plan includes native advertising. Remember one of The Ad Contrarian’s timeless axioms… there’s no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he’s missing a trend.
– The Ad Contrarian is Bob Hoffman, ceo of Hoffman/Lewis advertising in San Francisco and St. Louis. Hoffman is the author of The Ad Contrarian and 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising. Reprinted from his blog The Ad Contrarian.
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