Native Advertising Must Have Clear Disclosure (that it is, indeed, advertising)

January 30, 2015

By Bill Duggan

Native advertising provides marketers with the opportunity to create relevant associations between their brands and consumers via content. Done right, native advertising is a win for marketers, consumers, and publishers. Marketers win because their messages have a better likelihood of being seen/read versus traditional advertising. Consumers win because marketing messages have more contextual relevance than traditional advertising. And publishers win given the business development potential. 

With native advertising the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing messaging in the context of the user’s experience. The advertiser’s intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and increase the likelihood users will engage with it. But it cannot fool the consumer into thinking it’s editorial content from the publisher. There must be clear disclosure that it is indeed advertising.

According to the new ANA white paper, “Advertising Is Going Native,” 66% of respondents agree that native advertising needs clear disclosure that it is advertising. Only 13 percent feel that such disclosure is not needed, while 21% are not sure. Comment to that 13% who feel disclosure is not needed – you’re either wrong or misinformed and that’s the type of perspective that damages consumer trust in advertising.

According to survey respondents, both the publisher and the advertiser have a high responsibility to ensure disclosure. Comment to advertisers – this is an issue for you to be on top of; don’t simply delegate responsibility to your agency or the publisher. Advertisers must play an active role in ensuring disclosure.

Three-fourths of respondents feel that there is an ethical boundary for the advertising industry when it comes to native advertising – and that overwhelming perspective is terrific.

To enable consumers to tell the difference between native advertising and editorial, proper disclosure that native advertising content is indeed advertising is a must. Marketers have a responsibility to provide that transparency to consumers in order to maintain trust, and they must play a lead role in working with publishers to ensure proper disclosure. The advertising industry has had a long and successful history of self-regulation, but poor (or no) disclo­sure could undermine the long-term potential of native advertising and result in the threat of government intervention.

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