Native ads: New name for retro marketing

By Louis Eksteen


Native ads have been the rage for a while. Basically joining advertising and content marketing it’s touted as, to channel Tom Wolf, this week’s marketing tool of the century. But, wait for it, in reality it’s just an oldie (but a goodie).

The traditional magazine world developed many of today’s digital marketing techniques. Content marketing itself was born out of customer magazines, still an important part of any brand content strategy. Ironically, it’s digital that’s successfully copying magazines today, not magazines implementing successful digital strategies.

Native ads are what used to be called advertorials in magazines. Most magazines refrain from using this crass term and opt for the “sponsorships” or “promotions” euphemisms. But in reality it’s what it says on the pack: Advertising dressed up as editorial. This is exactly what native ads are: Digital advertising dressed up as digital editorial.

A variety of advertising research studies have recently highlighted the effectiveness of native ads. My opinion is the reason for this effectiveness is simple: Native ads (or advertorials) often contain useful, non-interruptive and subtle information. They are not the usual hard-sell ads.

Today native ads appear as newsfeed posts, promoted tweets and a myriad other less-intrusive ad units (or formats).

The future of digital (or internet) advertising itself is vested in native ads. Its uptake is growing at pace and all social networks are creating new ways of disguising advertising as editorial. For instance, much anticipation exists in the marketing world about how Facebook will monetise Instagram’s influence through clever native ads formats.

So next time you think that post that caught your attention looks a bit more like advertising than someone’s real editorial content, you’re probably right. Native ads are everywhere, there’s no more advertising church and editorial state.