What Part of “Don’t Deceive Your Readers” Aren’t We Getting?

[responsive]ASME-intern-v1[/responsive]Sixty-three percent of Association of ANA members surveyed reported that they plan to “increase their spending on native advertising this year,” according to Lucia Moses in Digiday.

This, in spite of the fact that “…earlier studies have shown people often can’t distinguish native ads from editorial, which raises concerns about the ethics of the format,” Moses continues.

The move toward native advertising, paid posts, sponsored content – whatever you want to call it – is causing enough concern that the Association of Corporate Counsel recently ran an article on the ASME’s advice about “not deceiving readers.”

“The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) recently updated its editorial guidelines for editors and publishers to reflect the growing use of native advertising and offered tips on how to maintain ethical standards while taking advantage of the trend,” the article notes.

The ASME has made it clear that “the true value of a print or digital magazine brand lies in its relationship with its readers,” and the organization has published native advertising guidelines in the hopes of keeping the integrity in that relationship.

Just what is so dangerous about sponsored content? Moses at Digiday points out some disturbing research results from native ad tech company TripleLift, translated into five charts that show the problem with sponsored content.

“TripleLift surveyed 209 U.S. consumers for their thoughts on how native ads are presented. Each person was shown five versions of the same native ad, for Sargento, on a website, each with a different disclosure label,” Moses explains.

“Seventy-one percent said they noticed the content in the ad, but fully 62 percent didn’t realize they were looking at an ad. Further, the ad that was labeled ‘Advertisement’ was seen the least — by 23 percent of respondents. (Spoiler alert: People ignore ads!),” Moses continues.

Other research shows that half of readers mistrust sponsored content, and two out of three “felt deceived upon realizing a piece of content was sponsored by a brand,” says Moses.

If “don’t deceive your readers” is the industry guideline, clearly native ads are playing a dangerous game.