Have you ever read a blog about somebody’s personal life / passion / cat / garden / whatever and stumbled into an article filled with references to a specific brand or product? Especially if the author doesn’t have the habit of using specific brand names in his or her articles? Well, what you read was not your usual blog post, but a form of advertising which matches the content and the style of the blog, and is called “native advertising”. And we love and hate it at the same time.
Native advertising was born out of the need of marketers to raise awareness for their products, to boost customer engagement through more unusual channels – basically to sell. It can be of many forms – the one that you will most often stumble into is “publisher-produced brand content”, similar to sponsored posts and “advertorials”, but unfortunately not always marked as such. This way you – readers – are fed with advertising without even noticing, much like in the form of product placements in TV series or movies. You gain awareness of a product or a brand without even noticing. This is the part we hate about native advertising.
There is a part we love, of course. We live in a world where banner ads are either all blocked by a series of ingenious browser add-ons, or simply ignored by our brains fed up with them after years of browsing the internet. We even either block or ignore the ads published by blogs and other publications that we otherwise enjoy – even if those ads are non-intrusive, and don’t bother our media consuming experience in any way. Native advertising is one way among the few left to support those creating content for our daily consumption. So, reading the occasional article describing how the blogger spent hours of fun time gaming and telling us to play platinum online games and maybe even clicking the provided link – is our way of supporting the author, paying for the services he or she provided, and basically ensuring the blog or publication we like will keep on providing us with content to consume.
Now here is another part to hate about native advertising – when big publishers do it, sometimes in publications they charge us to access. I routinely stumble into “advertorials” in local newspapers, bought with money and filled with traditional ads anyway, masked as news stories or editorials. I already mentioned product placements in movies and TV series – sometimes recognizing a brand on screen only makes them more realistic, but prominent pictures of smartphone and laptop brands, car brands and similar things have nothing to do with that. This is also native advertising – and the kind we hate.