Friday, June 9, 2017

The Return of the Native

At a workshop on ad retargeting I recently attended, a well-seasoned colleague dropped the word "advertorial" in conversation.

My response: "I bet that's something no Millennial's ever heard of."

The New Rules of Marketing and PR ushered in the era of "brand journalism," advertorials were a staple of B2B advertisers and publishers.

And they still are—even more so. But today we call them "
native ads."

A wolf in sheep's clothing, a native ad is meant to trick the reader.

The term "native" implies the ad has infiltrated the flock.

It says nothing about its clothing—its look and feel.

But that's misleading, says ad salesman Rich Rosenzweig.

An ad isn't "native" just because it's commingled with non-branded content, Rosenweig says. It's native because it disguises itself—and doesn't "interrupt" the reader.

"An ad unit is native only when it matches the look, feel, user path, and quality standards of the editorial content to which it’s adjacent," Rosenzweig says.

Artless native ads—non-skippable video ads, in particular—backfire, because they interrupt readers.

"Poorly executed native ads wind up tarnishing both the advertiser and the publisher; an unexpected interruption contributes to ad blindness, ad avoidance, and ultimately, ad blocking," Rosenzweig says.

Publishers are more to blame than advertisers, because they've dropped all standards.

"The relationship between branded content and the editorial feed is very much in flux," Rosenwieg says, "with different publishers taking wildly different approaches to how they position one against the other."

If publishers don't adopt a few reader-friendly standards soon, they're likely to drive them all to safer pastures.
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