Industry Expert Warns Against Native Advertising


Everybody’s doing it, so it must be good, right?

Not so much, according to one industry heavy hitter. It may be a media credibility crisis in the making, or worse.

“Brands investing in native advertising are embarking on an ‘unhealthy’ practice which risks identity and tone of voice being swallowed by surroundings, according to John Brown Media chief executive Andrew Hirsch,” writes Angela Haggerty in The Drum.

Hirsch is an outspoken critic of native advertising and the agencies that promote it, saying they have “coined the term in a bid to play in the booming content space,” according to Haggerty.

Hirsch contends that “the way it is used is actually a departure from traditionally successful content and used too often for ineffective, short-term campaigns,” Haggerty writes. Hirsch goes on to describe native advertising as “interruptive to a brand’s overall tone of voice and a threat to brand identity.”

Rather than being cynical, we feel Hirsh is realistic in his appraisal of the situation when he says, “The real difference with native is who is claiming the creation; you now have a boom in native advertising agencies, when traditionally it was an editorial product. Ad agencies created the term so they could play in that space.”

In fact he argues that the “boom” in content marketing has prompted a fresh interest in print-based marketing. As his company created content for clients, this is a very good thing in his eyes.

“Print is far from dead,” Hirsch told Haggerty. “It became unfashionable to talk about print, but there has been a resurgence, big clients are spending more.”

Aside from the risk, it is even worth the bother? Many say no, and stats show that the typical reader is just not that into sponsored content. Check the water carefully before you dive into the native advertising pool.