Truth in Labeling Essential to Native Advertising

2016 02 02   Peter Feinstein   Online vs Offline Media    

Tobi Elkin’s piece is a masterstroke at smoking out the nonsensical doublespeak coming from publishers on the matter of native advertising.

You have high-level execs at some well-respected publishers claiming they aren’t desperate for the revenue from native advertising – when their behavior says otherwise: They mask the true source of native advertising, apparently not wanting consumers to know that the content really is advertising.

Having consumers notice that something is sponsored content is not the same as saying it is advertising. Sponsored content is editorial content presented or underwritten by an advertiser – where the advertiser is named, and its bona fide ad appears elsewhere for consumer attention, or is integrated into the content but is obviously advertising. The way many online publishers want to post notice indicates that they do not want to tell the truth; they want to fudge and mislead consumers. They are afraid that – if they tell consumers the truth – many fewer will consume native content, which means they’re precious premium CPM isn’t so precious, nor so premium. The question becomes: Do you tell the truth and sacrifice the short-term money, or do you continue lying and let everyone who comes to your site begin to question the legitimacy and authenticity of everything they see on it?

Well, what’s it going to be? Truth in labeling, or the disintegration of integrity?

The offline world figured out a long time ago that truth in labeling is the only real option. The online world simply needs to follow this simple path for the controversy surrounding its native ads to go away – and they can make great money selling this available advertising inventory, known in the business as “avails.” They just need to get out of their own feeble-minded way.