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'Native' Ads May Damage Brand Perceptions

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"Native" ads, those that give the appearance of being authentic content (Twitter promoted tweets, Facebook sponsored stories, etc.), can have a negative effect on the perceptions of brands that sponsor such ads, according to a study by MediaBrix.

Advocates of "native" advertising say the format is more effective than standard banner ads, and as key advantages they cite higher click-through and engagement rates because the ads are contextual and often more relevant.

The MediaBrix study focused on perceptions of ads mimicking authentic content across various media, including print (e.g., advertorials in magazines), television (infomercials), and various digital platforms.

Among online adults who had viewed such ads in the previous 12 months:

  • 62% of those who had seen Twitter promoted tweets say those ads "negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised."
  • 72% of those who had seen Facebook sponsored ads said such ads negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised.
  • 85% of those who had viewed sponsored video ads appearing to be content said such ads negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand being advertised.


Below, additional findings from the MediaBrix study, conducted by Harris Interactive.

People find "native" ads to also be misleading. Among online adults who had viewed such ads in the previous 12 months:

  • 45% of those who had viewed Twitter promoted tweets found those ads misleading.
  • 57% of those who had viewed Facebook sponsored stories found them misleading.
  • 86% of those who had viewed sponsored video ads found them misleading.

Those who had viewed traditional "native" ad types such as advertorials in magazines in the previous 12 months also found those ads misleading.

"This study validates that people respond best to authenticity in advertising no matter the format. With the recent buzz around 'native' ad formats, I think we need to carefully consider best practices," said Ari Brandt, CEO for MediaBrix.

"While anyone pushing the native ad agenda or otherwise would agree that we need to provide user experiences that are not jarring or disruptive, we also need to ensure that we are direct and honest with consumers about when they are being marketed to. Some formats achieve this better than others."

About the data: The survey was conducted online in the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of MediaBrix, among 2,516 adults age 18 and older, October 2-4, 2012.


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  • by Michelle Thu Nov 8, 2012 via web

    Yet another example of how telling the truth is always the best. Being honest goes beyond refraining from telling an outright lie. It involves the refraining from deceptive practices as well.

    I've seen advertorials that fooled even me at first scan, and I did not appreciate it at all. I'd rather see an informative looking ad than an "article" that's really trying to sell me something.

    Ironically, this article itself is a bit misleading. I expected to see research results showing large amounts of people who were negatively impacted by the sponsored content. Instead, I found out that some were negatively impacted, but others weren't impacted at all. What's worse, there is no breakdown to show what percentage there is of each group. They are lumped together to imply the negative impact is greatest.

    I realize the questions *may* have been asked with "negative" and "no impact" lumped together, but I doubt it. It's important to know how many were not impacted versus how many were negatively impacted if you're going to make a wise decision about whether to use those types of ads or not. No impact may be a reasonable gamble, but negative impact is damaging. Surely the study took this into account.

    Still, I'm glad to see the article. This is good information. Would love to hear other people's feedback.

  • by Britney Gulledge Thu Nov 8, 2012 via web

    Time and time again we see proof that consumers are turning a blind eye to blatant advertising. They want to feel compelled to engage organically. From personal experience, I skip "promoted tweets" and the like because I'd rather feel like I made my decisions independently. It is a time where trends are changing and consumers are turning away from traditional "in your face" ads.

  • by Michelle Thu Nov 8, 2012 via web

    Britney: I agree people get tired of the "in your face" ads. I think that's why the promoted tweets, etc. caught on.

  • by Scott Sat Nov 10, 2012 via web

    I agree with Michelle. This post is misleading when it lumps negative and neutral data together and presents them all as negative. It's just poor writing and has to make the premise of the article suspect. It's quite ironic that I have a negative impression of this article and find it misleading - just the point they're trying to make against Native Ads.

  • by Shanna Tue Nov 13, 2012 via web

    I also agree that "negative" and "no impression" should not be lumped together and doesn't give you a clear picture. We just did a focus group a couple of weeks ago, and found that the majority of people respond "no impact" to any question where that's an option but if you question them further they really do have a positive/negative impression. This comes back to the idea that no one wants to believe that advertising actually works on them, we all want to think that we are smart enough to see through it and make our own judgements without the influence of marketing! Anyone with more than a day's experience in marketing should know better than to lump "no impact" in with any other answer and expect to get clear results, or to even include that as an option at all without some follow up questions that will give you a clearer picture. Poor research design here, which is a shame because it's a question that I think a lot of us would like to know a true answer to.

  • by Ardath Albee Tue Nov 13, 2012 via web

    I find it interesting that AdRadar sponsored the post, has a disruptive advertisement in the middle of the article and shows up with an author bio that's basically an ad (no human and a product pitch) on a thinly re-written press release that provides no additional insights.

    Essentially, they sponsored an article on native advertising and then ignored the very concept in the way they chose to participate.

    Note: I do see that the ads rotate between AdRadar and Experian, but the point being that the ad does show up out of context both in the middle and in their bio at the bottom. I find it interesting that no one else noticed...

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