Native Ads: Let’s Be Clear.

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We like the IAB and their efforts to create standards for the wild west internet, including native advertising.

Recently, they weighed in (again) on Native Advertising and standards, vis a vis, not duping consumers. If you’ve been busy with RFP’s and pitch decks or trying to run your ad agency startup, they have a track record (see this, this, and this).

We like where they’re headed.

Admittedly, we’ve fallen for it. Walgreens did a great job on with their native ads.

Comedy sites aside, there could be real ramifications for genuine news sites like New York Times, if native content confuses readers about which news is real. That said, any newspaper publisher worth their salt has known for a long time not to violate their reader’s trust. So, you’re not going to see them allowing a 60 sec video on “Breaking News in Baghdad” w/ a CPG logo tag. At least the reputable ones.

Here are some broad takeaways:

  • If it captures attention it has potential for being an ad. It could be a deeply integrated  brand play or it may just have a logo slapped onto the end.
  • You can’t draw a clean line in this sand.
  • Red Bull: Are those ads or content? In the end, it’s an ad because Red Bull sells go-go juice. I guess if the editor of the NYT was base jumping from an elephant on top of the Empire State Building, then maybe that crosses a line. It would still be entertaining, though. But wait, if it’s an ad for the NYT and not a news story, then it’d be okay, right? Confusing.
  • How are you ever going to contain the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” ? We know it’s fiction, but it’s so good, we’re hoping it’s at least a little bit real.
  • Sometimes people get fooled. There is free will, after all. And then there’s the buyer-beware tactic. Be smart, people. Be smart.

We say, have a clean message about who you are and what you’re selling. Do it quickly with punch. Respect your potential customers. Put that message in a medium that will reach your targets effectively. Repeat.

Good luck in 2016.

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