Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Native Advertising Makes Ads Look Like Content

How often do we go from website to website, barely looking at the banner ads that fill the top, side, or bottom of the screen?  Sometimes though, they are hard to ignore, especially when they are the same ad, with bright colors and moving images that attract our eye.  But how often do we click on them... rarely, never?  Like commercials on television, banner ads have been the means for advertisers to reach audiences.  But the clutter gets to be so much that we start to ignore and worse, avoid them.

The latest tactic to hit the web is certainly not a new one.  And yes, native advertising has been around for a while. But many viewers may not be aware that they are really ads.  For TV, think of it as integrated or product placement advertising.  Products or services being mentioned and used within the body of the show.  Hard to ignore because they are part of the fabric of the content.   For the web, native advertising looks and acts like content.  But they are indeed sponsored and paid for by third party advertisers hoping to get you to click on them and thus transported to their sites.

How can you differentiate between advertising and true content?  Some websites specifically tell you you that a particular box is sponsored content, others do not.  Words like "Around the Web" or Latest"  are used.  Click them and you open a new page of content, some that bring you to new web content helping sites to improve their ComScore and Google ratings, others to pure advertiser pages.  Facebook and Twitter put these "sponsored" or native ads right in your feed so that it looks like part of the content flow that you read.  It also may ask you to "Like" the content, share or retweet it, or click it and push out to another page.  What seems clear is that presenting ad messages in a more integrated way into content improves the interaction with the ad.  But it also blurs the line.  But let's be clear, it is not new to the world of advertising; it has been learned and reshaped to fit into the digital world.

“It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read. Therefore, study the graphics used by editors and imitate them. Study the graphics used in advertisements, and avoid them.”  - David Ogilvy