2016 to Native Advertising: Game On

naiExperts predict this is the year that native advertising either gains respect or is shown the door…and consumers hold the cards.

You know a thing has arrived when it has its own institute. Native advertising has become so important to marketers that the Native Advertising Institute launched early last year with the aim of “helping marketers become successful with native advertising,” according to their website.

Ad now they’ve published their first annual e-book called “20 Predictions for Native Advertising in 2016.”

“We have sought out 20 outstanding experts in the field of native advertising to help us understand the ramifications of the year 2016,” writes NAI editor Anders Vinderslev, who hints at the “significant strides” and “serious challenges” the industry will face this year.

The first prediction is encouraging.

“Smaller brands will begin to explore native advertising,” predicts Rebecca Lieb of Conglomotron, adding that “publishers will become more serious about establishing firm ethical and disclosure guidelines.”

Others like Jaime Stephens Phams of LinkedIn predict a “shift to quality over quantity,” also highly welcome news.

Content recommendation networks are expected to get better this year, especially as Google launches its native ad network, notes Chad Pollitt of Relevance. And Tim Cain of Digital First Media predicts that this is the year native advertising makes it or doesn’t.

“2016 will be a watershed year for Native Advertising, the coming of age year when Native becomes either respectable or is dismissed as thinly veiled advertising,” Cain comments. Others agree that this is a do-or-die year, like Sam Rose of the Atlantic who says that “native specifically, and content marketing generally, is exiting its honeymoon phase and moving into a burden-of-proof moment.”

And just to make sure we don’t get too comfortable with the idea, Jamie Toward of Karmarama predicts some bloody skirmishes. “There will be an arms race between advertisers, ad tech developers and ad blockers through the whole of 2016,” insisting that industry needs to clean house regarding its ad practices. Native ads will likely be caught in the crosshairs.

Other predictions include finally cracking the measurement dilemma, the growing importance of vertical video starting at the mobile level, and more money and talent being leveraged to the native side.

It’s going to get interesting, and the industry certainly stands to gain or lose a lot in the balance. As we’ve all learned from the ad blocking disaster, in the end it’s the consumer who will decide if a brand’s native ad efforts work or wreak havoc.