Can Native Ads Survive the Blockade?

goodbaduglyAs consumers race to bar digital intrusion, where does that leave brands and their sponsored content? A word of warning to publishers.

The debate around native advertising and its future continues to swirl in the industry, with the practice being called “one of the hottest and most controversial trends in the industry” according to Nikolay Malyarov in Fipp.

And it’s been around for decades, although we’ve known it as “advertorial” content up until a few years ago. The problem now is that, with improvements in digital publishing technology and journalistic savvy, it’s far harder to spot than the old advertorial page. And it’s becoming ubiquitous.

Native advertising spending is soaring based on data from multiple sources that show their superior performance over traditional display, particularly on mobile,” he notes.

According to Malyarov, there’s some good news about all of this (high quality native ads can help consumer perception of brands); some bad (branded content magnifies any existing negative brand sentiments); and some really ugly (nearly half of consumers reported feeling deceived by sponsored content).

Clearly it’s not going away, with major publishers creating their own in-house agencies and hiring experienced and talented journalists to create the content. The revenue these stories produce is viewed by publishers as critical to the bottom line.

What’s not been discussed much is how the current surge in ad blocking usage will impact this practice.

As Malyarov asks, “…can native advertising save the industry from the spread of what some publishers and marketers believe are digital highway robbers – the ad blockers? Maybe. But only if consumers are kept at the centre of a publisher’s native advertising strategy.”

“Continue the practice of ‘serving; native ads like banner ads are done today, rather than ‘publishing’ them with the same care and customer-focused attention done with editorial content and we’ll once again be vulnerable to more than just ad-blocking firewalls; we’ll lose the trust of our most valuable asset – our audience,” he notes.

Words of wisdom there, and if we’ve learned anything from the recent ad blocking phenomenon, it’s the fact that consumer trust is everything. Custom content might just remain the only thing left that gets through…unless we mess that up too.