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Robert Yardy
Robert Yardy 24 September 2013

What's Native Advertising Got in Common with an Erotic French Film?

Native advertising is an incredibly powerful tool but what's it got in common with the 1958 French film “The Lovers (Les Amants)”

“You know it when you see it”. This, of course, is the famous Potter Stewart quote from the Jacobelis vs Ohio court case (1964) in which the French film “The Lovers (Les Amants)”, that the state of Ohio deemed too obscene, was at the centre of.

As the definition of native advertising continues to evolve this quote is incredibly fitting. But I’ll get to that later, let me first go back to the origins of this marketing tactic…

If there’s one thing we CAN’T agree on, it’s native advertising!

Ever since Fred Wilson gave his high profile talk at the OMMA Global Conference during Advertising Week in New York in September2011, the marketing world has been in a bit of a frenzy about native advertising.

Wilson did not actually coin the phrase “native advertising”. This is credited to Dan Greenberg, the CEO of Sharethrough. Wilson used the rather less catchy term “native monetization systems”. Native monetization systems in this context refers to the seamless integration of an aspect of a web service that is focused on generating money. They are essentially ads that are “unique and native to the experience” of the site.

He used Google Adwords and promoted Twitter accounts as prime examples of native monetization systems.

Wikipedia defines native advertising as “a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed.”

This definition is perhaps too simplistic for some, but we’ll get to that later in this blog post.

It is difficult to think of another marketing related subject that has caused such a difference in opinions amongst those in the industry.

It seems that everyone has their own take on native advertising and what it entails but there is one thing that everyone agrees on; native advertising has the potential to make some serious cash for savvy companies.

I have read a few variations on how much the native advertising market is currently worth but in true sensationalist style I’m just going to go right ahead and use the highest amount reported; $10 billion! Now I bet that’s got your attention.

Native adverts need to be uniquely crafted to integrate with a publisher’s design, content and value proposition. For example www.buzzfeed.com is a popular website that shows awesome, and some not so awesome, content posted by its users. Companies are also allowed to post content and it is presented in an almost identical manner as user generated content. The only giveaway in the disguise is some slight shading and the “FEATURED PARTNER” label in the bottom right had corner (see the Nokia example in images below).

In this respect native ads can be excellent for consumers as companies have had to up their game in terms of the content they release to reach consumers and how they help consumers find what they are looking for e.g. Google Ads.

When performed successfully native advertising can be incredibly powerful. Sharethrough recently partnered with researcher IPG to look into the effects of native advertising. It was reported that 53% of people are more likely to look at native ads and 32% said that they would share a native ad with a family member. Just a thought, but could it be that this report is a form of native advertising? Sharethrough, with their tagline of “Top publishers use Sharethrough’s technology to create and manage native advertising placements”, may have a vested interest in the report being in favour of native advertising. “Native reporting” perhaps?

Did Wayne’s World use native advertising?

It is said that native ads need to fit in with the context in which they are sitting. Google Ads obviously do this. But what about product placements. If you watch the movie Wayne’s World, you will see the loveable rocker Wayne munching on a pizza from Pizza Hut Anyone who has seen this film will know that this scene is completely taking the p*** out of product placement but it is still clearly product placement. It can be easily argued that Pizza Hut are improving their brand image by being associated with the film and especially this tongue-in-cheek scene.

However, this in your face approach may not fall into the ever evolving definition of native advertising. I’ll elaborate on this later.

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