Native advertising is all the rage in marketing circles these days. The approach blends paid messages into the look and feel of the hosting digital platform, which makes the advertising seem relevant and indigenous.

However, native advertising also is immersed in controversy. The Federal Trade Commission is exploring native advertising to make sure it is in no way misleading to consumers who might read it as true editorial. And the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has issued a native advertising handbook in an attempt to define native advertising.

After significant market pushback, publishers now define native content as an "advertorial" or a "special advertising supplement" in an effort to be fully transparent with their readership.

A new approach, however, is needed. Marketers and content creators want to encourage deeper engagement without being unscrupulous; consumers want to know when they are viewing a paid message, and they want the distinction to be clear.

Enter native engagement.

Preserving Your Audience's Trust

A good native strategy is designed and executed with absolute transparency in digital media.

Without transparency, native advertising can be perceived as intrusive, and the blowback hurts publishers and advertisers. Consumers lament the loss of content without branding. Also, they are disillusioned with content that appears to be editorial—and therefore "pure"—but really is sponsored, therefore "bought." The third-party endorsement that marketers associate with editorial coverage is absent, and if that fact isn't immediately obvious, advertisers and publishers stand to lose their credibility and their audience's trust.

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John Federman is chairman and CEO of Dailybreak Media.

LinkedIn: John Federman

Twitter: @jhfederman