Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blurred Lines Between Native Advertisement and Content

Kristian McPeek

Native advertisement the correct way or more the hidden troll. With traditional banner advertisement being so ineffective, companies are resorting to what is known as native advertisement.

The problem is that readers of the material often feel deceived when clicking on the native advertisement. This is because they aren’t sure if the content being featured is because of a paid relationship, or original content.

The move from print material to digital material has made it much easier for advertisers to deceive the reader.

Digital material allows businesses to create a link thus taking the reader to an additional page also owned by that business.

Chad Pollitt- moz.com
Businesses have to resort to this style of advertisement as most of the viewer’s attention is spent on the content, and away from the ads.

 The problem is that this is the digital world, so an ad with a link might start out on a site stating that it was posted by so and so, but soon after hours of migrating that link to that so called story which is actually an ad that will just read that it is by Forbes or Wall Street, and no longer contains the name of the business that is trying to deceive you.

As a result of the advertisements blending in so well with the actual content, the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) released new guidelines for websites and social media to follow. New guidelines require them to clearly label advertisement on their websites with terms like “Sponsor Content”. And to make this label visually distinguishable from the editorial content. Also, new guidelines state that editorial content that could possibly deceive the reader should be avoided. This is all done to keep the trust of the reader, and the integrity of the magazine.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose primary duty is to protect consumers from false and misleading advertisement, is getting involved with these problems that native advertisement has caused.

This is because, with ASME’s new guidelines websites are now able to get rid of that word we dislike so much “advertisement”, and replace it with labels like “posted by” or “suggested post”. 

Additionally, in order to separate the links from the rest of the content, businesses are also able to customize their advertisements specifically to their target audience, and to mimic the look and feel of the host website.

While the look of native advertisements differ from depending on the host website, the underling goal for the marketers is the same – to make the advertisement look and feel like the editorial content.

Another issue is trying to find the middle ground which can eliminate some of the transparency so that the customer can tell the difference between what is content and what is an advertisement, but also allowing the business to enjoy the competitive edge of using native advertising.

So the question becomes, will the FTC get more involved and create additional guidelines? And if so, how strict will their guidelines be? The FTC is put in place to protect consumers from deceitful ads, but in the end, advertisement is required for a business to have customers.

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