| by SAY Media

Native advertising. More media jargon?

Native advertising. More media jargon?Native advertising. More media jargon?

In the new age of content, jargon is plentiful. Programmatic, big data, omnichannel, viewability, The Internet of Things… The advertising industry is rife with a befuddling number of buzzwords and acronyms that we are all trying to get our heads around. Do we really need another one…….native?

Whether you like it or not, native advertising is the phrase on everyone’s lips in digital circles right now, but as an industry do we really understand it in all its forms? Native could be “an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience”. It could also be “a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” Well, which is it?

Does anyone actually know? It’s one of these buzzwords floating around the industry but does it have any substance behind it? Or are we just dancing around this word because, in fact, we don’t really know what it is?

Traditionally, publishing balance was skewed towards editors and the readers – and advertising was seen as the ugly stepsister in the room. The relationship between content and advertising has changed. Editors are more responsive and commercially savvy about how brands fit into the ecosystem today, but it has to be done in a very sensitive manner so that the relationship between editorial and their readers isn’t tarnished.

It seems that some pockets of the online advertising world are still approaching “native” with a surprising degree of caution. Why? Well, many an advertiser has read ‘native’ and thought ‘advertorial’. And there’s the rub. Native advertising may be many things but an increasing number of brands and agencies are embracing native advertising as an exciting way in which to engage consumers.

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that digital advertising could serve any purpose other than to directly point the consumer towards a particular product or service. Yet brands are now adopting storytelling techniques in the way they market and advertise online, allowing the reader to continue to enjoy absorbing the content they actually went online to view. Some of the cleverest examples of native advertising we now see are set up to excite readers, fans and followers, and appeal to them by speaking to them – be this through words, imagery or video content – in the same style and tone of the surrounding content. Native at its best hooks consumers in before the main brand message even becomes clear.

But my point is this, has “native” simply been determined as a sub-set of the catch-all content marketing? What exactly is it - sponsored posts, branded content, advertorials, in-content ad formats, maybe even blog posts? Is it this just an umbrella word under which many digital ad formats available today fall under? It’s time we were all reading from the same textbook.

In digital, we now have the technologies to integrate advertising messages into content in so many exciting and innovative ways that native advertising – or whatever you determine it to be – should never feel like an add-on. You could be advertising anything from toilet cleaner to an inventive new gadget, but there are untold ways that brands can go about doing it, bringing about an exciting new era in digital advertising.

Take our survey and tell us what native means to you? Isn’t it about time we really understood and defined native once and for all? #HaveYourSAY here: www.thedrum.com/saymedia

Carla Faria is UK solutions director at Say Media

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