What is Native Advertising and Why Are Some Folks Concerned?

Native AdvertisingEveryone with an advertising supported website is well aware of how Internet advertising has changed in the last 10 years.  Gone are the days when generating a nice revenue meant simply placing ads on a website.  Things have become much more challenging as click rates on ads have dropped significantly and, thanks to technology, advertisers have become more sophisticated in assessing an ads’ effectiveness.  Today advertisers know it takes a highly targeted and personalized approach to get customers to pay attention to ads.

However, targeted advertising is just one way marketers have fought back against low click-through rates.  Another approach, and one that has been used in television and print media for years, is sponsored-content advertising.  With sponsored-content ads, information is placed on a website by an advertiser in a way that may seem to match the website owner’s content and layout.  Often the content is presented in the form of a small article or even a tweet.  These forms of so-called native advertising are becoming bigger everyday as content sites, such as newspapers and information sites, look for ways to generate more revenue. (For more information on native advertising see this link.)

But, with some forms of sponsored-content advertising, it is difficult to determine if the content is actually an ad or is part of the content produced by a website.  Because of this it is attracting the attention of industry self-regulators.  According to this New York Times story, there is concern that some forms of native advertising are not providing enough evidence to show they are actually sponsored- content ads.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also getting involved, not for potential regulation reasons (at least not right now), but to help the industry gain a better understanding of this evolving advertising method.

Image by Stilgherrian

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