What is Native Advertising?

In case you have not yet seen the John Oliver evisceration of the very idea of Native Advertising, it is below, but in summary native advertising is content whose purpose is to promote brands and sell products, but content that looks like a news article.

The fact that it looks like a news article is what makes it “native”.

John Oliver thinks it’s morally reprehensible, because most people are not aware it’s actually an ad.

The video is 11:22, but it’s hilarious, and it makes some valid points.

Inbound Marketing is 100% Native

Having said that, like GMO foods, native advertising doesn’t have to be bad. Native Advertising can be done in a way that is moral and responsible, and that style of native advertising is called Inbound Marketing.

I’ll use an old farmer’s publication to illustrated this point. John Deere started publishing a quarterly magazine titled The Furrow in 1895. The desired audience was farmers so the magazine contained articles of interest to farmers. Topics such as crop rotation, developments in fertilizer, animal husbandry, and of course innovations in tractors.

Everyone knew the commercial purpose of The Furrow was to help sell tractors. No attempt was made to hide that. It ran no ads except ads for John Deere products.

When you do the same thing on your website and you sell your products and services into your audience, you’re doing Inbound Marketing.

The Issue is Not Native, but Deception

When the content you publish is truly useful and relevant, and when your commercial desires are out in the open, then Native advertising is fine.

It’s when people actually think an ad really is citing a real scientific study showing the health benefits of sugary drinks (for example) that we have a problem. The issue is not that the ad is native, the issues is that by looking like a news article, it’s deceptive.

Native can be good, as long as it’s not deceptive.

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