Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Ins and Outs of Native Advertising

Janie Dulaney

While waiting for your next class to start, or while procrastinating completing your homework, you may open up BuzzFeed, to instead find out when you will meet your soulmate based on your ice cream choices. While scrolling through the wide range of BuzzFeed quizzes, you may have noticed in the past that specific quizzes are labeled "sponsored content," most likely with the company or business that is sponsoring the post. 
While you may just click right through the quiz to find out if your opinions on wedding etiquette are popular or not, you'll probably notice the subtle advertising coming from Geico, inviting you to like their Facebook page, or even to click on their link in order to see how you could save 15% or more on car insurance.

Native advertising, as a definition from Forbes, are the ads that "are designed to fit so closely with a publication's content that they may appear to be part of the publication." So while someone who is not as in-the-know about advertising and native advertising as a journalism student clicks on this quiz because they genuinely want to know their opinions level of popularity, can they even tell the difference? This may not be a very big deal in an instance like this; plus, are the teenagers and young adults that are most likely browsing this content really looking to buy insurance? Is this actually going to change anything? Hard to say, but in the future when they are trying to think of brands of insurance to look into, they could evoke Geico out of sheer exposure and familiarity, which is what this advertising is all about. Just blend it in with the rest of the playful content that people are exploring.

There are many critics of the use of native advertising, and many ways it could be associated with ethical dilemmas, but AdEspresso is not one of them, instead, they have admired the creative and innovative platforms in which brands work to push their content. They bring up the argument that "successful native advertising is brash, it's colorful, and it stands out amidst the rest of the content around it." and "studying it can tell you a lot about how to do advertising in general."

It's not all sunshine and rainbows in the land of native advertising, though, and some predict a much darker turn on things. Another Forbes article states that according to a study, "only 17 out of 242 subjects -- under 8%-- were able to identify native advertising as a paid marketing message" which they define as a "huge problem in the era we live in with trust in the media being at an all-time low." This brings up the point I mentioned previously, about someone not as informed in the sphere of advertising and marketing as those studying strategic communications or maybe business is likely to be.

With recent changing of the FDA guidelines on native advertising, new restrictions are being enforced with the goal of making native advertising a more ethical process, or at least from being deceptive. They define "native advertising that does not disclose the commercial nature of the content is misleading. this is so even if the product claims are truthful."

So even as the landscape of advertising is ever changing and evolving, the FDA is attempting to stay ahead of the curve, but ultimately, it is up to the respective platforms to act in a way that is ethical and not misleading the audience.

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