People can debate and good and bad of native advertising. I have heard it from all sides.
The basic reality is that media exists because of advertising.
If you are a publisher and think native ads diminish your brand or taint your perspective or the trust of your consumers, the only absolute is to stop taking money for your content.
If you are a consumer and think the native ads are unethical and diminish the credibility of a publisher, you should let them know and you have the choice to stop reading and find your information elsewhere.
Magazines, newspapers and other publications are going to continue to experiment with native advertisements – and yes – that includes on the covers of printed materials.
It is interesting that this topic has surfaced with more intensity due to a cover ad on the upcoming print edition of Forbes magazine. The blue box highlights a native advertisement from Fidelity on retirement without any disclaimer that this sponsored content. For those outside of the print media world – this has traditionally been a big “no no.”
When working with clients, we always insist on as much transparency as possible with content, sponsored pages, etc. They are increasingly a substantial revenue source for online publications like the Huffington Post. For example, the Daily Mail recently signed an agreement with Strayer University to sponsor a business news section. If executed properly, they can be great brand building and revenue generators for the sponsor as well – which of course is their goal.
Overall, I am not as against native advertisements as other marketing professionals and Internet purists. I think the public is on the look out for content that is relevant and educational, regardless of how that content is delivered or where it is from.
In my view, it all comes back to trust. Native advertisements are not bad if they are carefully scrutinized, meet consumer needs and their consumer reaction is closely watched. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Content that is relevant and delivers results.