native ads

If you work in or around technology, then most likely you’ve heard talk of native advertising. There are people rating against it, some arguing for it, and new rules and regulations coming out about it. So, why is everyone talking about native ads and why are the arguments getting so heated?

What are Native Ads?

Native ads are advertisements that match the “native” format of the platform or publication. So maybe you’re reading your daily news and you click on an article you think is written by the publication’s editorial staff, but it’s actually an article written by a brand promoting their product.

This type of ad can be seen on social media in the form of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, Facebook’s Promoted Stories, and Tumblr’s Promoted Posts.

Why are Native Ads Controversial?

Since native advertisements are meant to blend in, many think this is misleading to the consumer; therefore, the FTC said native ads must be labeled as such. Now you’ll see “Sponsored Content”, “Ad Sponsorship”, “Promoted by (Company)”, etc. The problem is that a study found that about a quarter of readers didn’t realize an editorial staff member didn’t write the content, even though it was labeled in a clear way.

What is the Future of Native Ads?

Native ads are not going anywhere anytime soon:

These numbers are going to rise. And while for now the big companies are taking advantage of this trend, there is opportunity for smaller businesses as well. Inc. Magazine wrote an article on how the smaller companies can get in on this trend. Since native ads depend heavily on strong content, small- to mid-sized companies with talented writers can also have success with native ads.

Native ads are a big source of revenue for media outlets. Forbes for example requires that advertisers spend at least $250,000 on native ads. However, the company claims a money-back guarantee that refunds the advertisers cash if the native ads don’t work. Most likely more publications will offer guarantees such as this one in order to hang onto the big checks coming from big brands.

Is the Future Uniformity?

The FTC continues to give brands regulations on what a native ad entails, but so far there is no uniformity between the publications. So if a reader views an article on one publication called “Ad Content”, they may not realize the label “Sponsored Content” on the next publication means the same thing. It will be interesting to see if the FTC tackles the non-uniformity in order to make native ads more known to their viewers. For now, however, publications are under no obligations to label native ad content like everyone else.

Since we see no movement there, we should then focus the discussion on making relevant content with accurate ads. Native ads should allow the reader to understand that this is promoted content and still engage them to read on or view this promoted content because they are interested in the content itself.