In defence of Native Advertising

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According to the Wikipedia entry, Native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. In other words, native ads are ads that look and feel like the regular content that you consume – articles, video, and audio.

“PhoneBoy Speaks” is a podcast that examines “Mobile Technology, Social Media, Geek Culture, and General Tech Douchebaggery”. Episode 453 examines the subject of Native Advertising, with a spotlight on the trust issues arising from this form of advertising. I agree that native advertising may be ruining our ability to trust any “legitimate” information source, and we have to keep looking at that issue.

However, we got here because we were pushed by users:

1. the wholesale rejection of paying for online content by users; followed by
2. the wholesale rejection/blocking of standard online ad formats by users.

In other words, users and readers of online content want to eat their cake and have it. They want content but reject the channels through which they are paid for. Content producers have to generate income one way or the other. If users refuse to pay for content, then complain about banner ads and implement ways to block those, something else has got to give. And so, native ads were born (so to speak).

Every time consumers demand for free, we will find that there is some greater price to pay in return. The trust issues that come with native advertising is the price that users have to pay, just like the trust issues that come with getting a free Gmail account. Native advertising is certainly here to stay – the good, the bad, and the ugly. How well it is moderated to take care of the potential trust issues that come with it (and whether it can even be moderated at all) is another matter entirely.

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