Native Advertising Online: A fine line to walk

These past few years have brought a noticeable change in internet marketing. Not long ago the main advertising strength was held by banner ads and search result promotions. With major rises in social media and content sharing websites, these methods are giving way to sponsored content. This can be good and bad in how easy it is to get a “click” with an interesting title. But just as banner ads have lost their appeal and marketing value, it’s only a matter of time before misleading native advertisement does the same. This will give way to an overall better internet experience for both marketers and users.

Ads that have appeared on the sides of our search engines and in banners on popular websites have been there for as long as we can remember. These places for ads have all become recognizable and avoidable. The success of these ads has fallen dramatically over the years and native advertising seems to be becoming a new preferred method for brand exposure.

We have all seen it in every search engine we have browsed. It looks like an article, an interesting one in fact. So your curiosity peaks and you click on it, thinking you will be redirected to it. But no, you are now redirected to another site that most likely has very little to do with what you were searching for in the beginning. The Native Advertising Technique, now used by so many on the World Wide Web, has tricked you again.

Offering an ad with a look and feel of an article has increased the users likelihood to click on the advertisement. Which is useful to advertisers in getting their message viewed. Even though the average user doesn’t care, there is still a high enough click through rate to make this method worth it. This can become extremely aggravating if you are not just surfing the web and you’re looking for specific information. Many sites are clear about the source and intention of an article. But there are many still that are quite misleading about what the true reason for the content is and pack what looks to be useful information with branding copy and calls to action.

On the other hand, when it is done well, native advertising can be a wonderful thing for both the brand producing it and the consumer viewing it. Some of the more successful ads come from the many social media sources on the web. Most of the more popular social media sites are very clear when a post or article is sponsored. Even though the post might be marked as an ad, it can be shared by whoever is interested.

There are a few good examples of native advertisements that technically aren’t advertisements. The sponsoring brand only identifies themselves in a tag at the bottom of an article or just as the author of the post. The posts aren’t really about the brand, just a topic the brand is associated with, or just a topic that’s entertaining.

Virgin Mobile


These were both successful native advertisements last year and it is easy to see why. Even though there is no obvious connection to the brand, there is still SEO and name recognition benefits when the article is shared all over the web. And the ads have appeal instead of turning you off. They can remain popular and beneficial long after you have created them.

Native advertising will continue to develop until a standard approach is found. Although the overall effect can lead to a lot of useless content, I think methods will improve as users become more accustomed to them. There can be negative consequences to always tricking a potential customer into viewing an advertisement. Once users begin to recognize blatantly misleading ads over interesting content the marketers will have to work harder to get attention. I would prefer the internet to be filled with desirable, well thought out native advertisement if it means an end to the excessive and increasingly annoying banners that have plagued the web over previous decade, but not at the expense of filling the internet with misleading and useless content.

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