Quality Media Give in to Native Ads

2015 02 17   Peter Feinstein   Media and Regualtion    

“The march of native advertising continued this week, as Forbes dispensed with another traditional taboo. It put a native ad on the cover of its print edition for the March 2, 2015, issue, due out on newsstands on Monday.”

~ “Forbes Puts Native Ad On Cover,” Media Daily News, Feb. 13, 2015

The premise of regulations that eliminated broadcast and electronic (TV and radio, respectively) advertising that could be confused for news (or other authoritative content) was to protect consumers from the likes of advertisers who wanted only to make a buck. As long as it brought in the money, the ends justified the means.

No such laws or regulations affect print or online advertising… yet. Presently, all we have are the dictates of self-regulation; not very weighty or effective, apparently.

But there will come a time when some industrious attorney identifies a “class” of people deceived into participating in some money-making scheme for which the sole point-of-entry was native advertising. At that point, the Federal Trade Commission may step in, call a spade a spade, and outlaw it.

Until then, we’re going to see even heretofore well-thought-of brands (i.e., Forbes) skirt the ethical fringe by accepting and placing these kinds of ads, which post no identification as advertising and look identical to the magazine’s cover content. There is only confusion, not clarity; editorial content and advertising content are the same. Even worse, really, is the fact that the on-cover Native ad points to a full-blown Native ad in the magazine.

So much for trust. Forbes and others have embarked on this path of deception for the three key reasons cited in this column by Bob Garfield. The rest of Bob’s piece is right on-point, and the commentary below his posting is equally entertaining, if not downright brutal and funny! The sad fact is that it’s become rampant; if the likes of The New York Times and Forbes are all-in, then who the heck is out?