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Acknowledge Native Advertising for What It Is

2016 03 23   Peter Feinstein   Online vs Offline Media    

‘South Park’ Lampoon of Native Advertising Highlights Important Issues,” by Maria Shinkevich (AdvertisingAge, Feb. 24), is a nice primer on the pride and pitfalls of online Native Advertising (NA).

What I find so patronizing is the desire to treat NA as some kind of innovation – so new and exciting that the online community has to find a way to disclose it to consumers. I’ll be blunt. (Some may say rude.) It’s so easy a 6-year-old can figure it out: Just tell the flippin’ truth. Don’t sugar-coat it; don’t misrepresent it; don’t lie about it; and don’t try to confuse people. NA is advertising. If you don’t have the guts to label it as advertising anywhere it appears, then stop doing it; otherwise you’re lying to everyone who views it.

Contrary to Shinkevich’s assertion that it’s all about content, with NA, the content is a fait accompli; it is instead about clear disclosure. I don’t care if the content is truly hard-hitting news. If it’s advertising and not labeled as such, it’s a blatant misrepresentation designed to deceive me into taking some kind of action that lines someone else’s pockets.