Online advertising is a difficult field to navigate. People don’t like pop-ups very much and web banners are a dime a dozen. So what do marketers do now? They invest in native advertising.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau defines native advertising, or sponsored content, as a tactic that “delivers paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.” In short: They’re ads disguised as content. But this isn’t to be confused with content marketing. This article notes the differences between native advertising and content marketing. Whereas content marketing serves to build credibility and give consumers long-term value, native ads exist only to sell.
An ad that is designed so well that consumers might not even realize that it’s there? Too good to be true, right? Of course it is. So it’s no surprise that the F.T.C has gotten involved to warn marketers not to be deceptive with their native ads. But is that necessary? Are native ads really designed to trick consumers into thinking that they’re not being persuaded to buy something?
I think it’s fair that native advertising is mandated to have some sort of label on it, but I also don’t think there is anything wrong with advertising that resembles its environment. Whether an ad graces a TV screen or fall seamlessly into a Facebook News Feed, if the content is good, then people will embrace it.