By Alastaire Allday I'm not big on buzzwords, particularly when they're supposed to represent 'new' ideas. Once an i...

Go home native advertising you're drunk


By Alastaire Allday

I'm not big on buzzwords, particularly when they're supposed to represent 'new' ideas. Once an idea becomes a buzzword, you can guarantee it's reached saturation point

Take real-time marketing. Oreo had a good idea. Send out a well-timed tweet that's funny and relevant. Result? A bandwagon that reached its apogee last week with the arrival of the royal baby.

Suddenly every brand in the world was trying to ram home a baby-themed message, usually highly inappropriate, often bordering on desperate. The compilation of some of the worst, "Royally Desperate", is cringeworthy.</a>

Another new buzzword is "native advertising". If you haven’t come across it yet, you are probably Chris Hadfield and I'd like to congratulate you on recent mission to the ISS. Here’s what you've missed back on Planet Earth.

In its simplest form, native advertising is "advertising dressed up to look like content". It, too, started out as a good idea.

I don't mind, for example, a "promoted tweet" showing up in my Twitter feed. It's a brief interruption, it's usually targeted to something I've tweeted about, and I can see it's a paid tweet within a fraction of a second.

But like so many good ideas, it's turned into a bandwagon. A bandwagon of bad ideas. You see, native advertising isn't anything new. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Long before the internet, we had native advertising. We called it "advertorial" and it was paid content designed to look like real news.

This year it's spread across the internet like a rash.</a>

You read an article on your favourite site. There will be a load of other suggested news articles. But some of those articles won't be “real” articles at all. You'll click on them, get a couple of paragraphs in then realise... this isn't interesting...  this is a badly written sales pitch.

It's the deceptiveness of this kind of advertising that irritates. I don't mind watching a few ad breaks in the middle of a TV show. But imagine if half way through your favourite TV show, it stopped being a show and became a commercial.

Mad Men, season 7, episode 1. Don's drinking problem causes him to pass out during an important pitch. His colleagues send him to rehab. Rehab! With 24/7 nursing, luxurious rooms, and a 97% success rate, you'd be mad not to visit. Think you have a problem? Call 0800 100 1000 now for a confidential chat...

Get the point? We keep the ads separate from the entertainment for a reason.

But it exists because other models of advertising online have failed. People don't click on banners. "Permission marketing" only works when people give permission.

And so we return to a very old idea -- the advertorial.

Except on the web, it's much harder to spot. Imagine if every time you clicked a link in an article, there was a 50/50 chance of finding out it was a poorly written sales pitch... after you'd spent a couple of minutes reading it.

Native advertising is advertising you don't want to read camouflaged as interesting content you do want to read.

And when people realise it's a bait and switch, they get very annoyed. As a business model, it's doomed to fail.

Stick with a strategy that involves engaging with your customers through social channels and offering content that they actually want to read, rather than a cheesy, advertorial-style bait-and-switch sales pitch.

Native advertising? Don't waste my time.

You may also like

Powered by Blogger.