This is a guest post by Co-Founder and CEO of inPowered, Peyman Nilforoush. See Peyman featured in our Roundtable Discussion Featuring 18 Native Ad Experts.
Trust is the New Black – Why Native Ads Don’t Have to Be Deceptive
With every transaction, publishers are mining and exporting a rare resource: trust.
-Bob Garfield, columnist, at the December 4th FTC Workshop on Native Advertising
If there was one clear takeaway from the recent FTC Workshop on Native Advertising earlier this month, it was that we, as an industry, have some very serious issues to address when it comes to native ads. And at the core of those issues is trust.
At the workshop – cleverly entitled “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?” – there was a spirited debate about best practices for how the industry should implement native ads. Unfortunately, far too much of the conversation focused on the best way to format and distribute native ads – not the content of those ads. But then the afternoon came, and there was a radical shift in the tone of the discussion.
When Bob Garfield, columnist and co-host of NPR’s On the Media show, took the microphone, he made it crystal clear what he thinks of native ads: not much. He stated his opinion that he views native advertising as an inherently deceptive practice, calling native “A conspiracy of deception. A hustle. A racket. A grift.”
Regardless of whether or not you agree with Bob’s viewpoint, it was a necessary catalyst to broaden the conversation and address the issues that are (or will be) inhibiting the long-term success of native ads.
Personally, I believe that there can be value in native ads, but that the current implementation of native ads is simply broken. The industry is focusing too much on the distribution of brand messages/ads as opposed to the content. If consumers don’t trust the content that you are sharing (like an ad), then it doesn’t really matter how well you distribute that content.
So how do we bridge this increasingly wide trust gap?
I believe that the solution lies in delivering trusted, third party content. When consumers are considering brands or products, they look for (and respond to) articles and reviews of brands or products by trusted experts. Think about it – how do you yourself go about finding information when considering a purchase? Do you look for credible information from trusted experts, or do you look to a brand’s ads?
We, as marketers, need to put ourselves in the consumers shoes and establish our brands as trusted sources of information that the consumer can rely on when making decisions. If we continue to focus on how to trick more consumers into clicking on ads, then it won’t be long before native ads go the way of banner ads and become an inherently untrusted medium that consumers ignore. And that would be bad for both publishers and brands.
Today’s uber-connected consumer does not want to be “sold to” – they want to be educated so that they can make an informed decision about their purchases. By finding the most influential articles and reviews that have already been written about your brand or products and utilizing those as native ads, brands have the opportunity to become a source of trusted content for consumers, thus building trust with the consumer and increasing brand awareness and consideration.
The conversations happening now around native advertising – both at the FTC level and throughout the industry – are all indicative of the need for a change. A change from the current deceptive native ad practices to a more educational approach that focuses on the empowerment of users, as opposed to the entrapment of users.
Which side of the native fence do you want your marketing efforts to fall on?
Be sure to check out future installments to our native advertising series, including:
- Native Advertising: A Definitive Overview
- Native Advertising: Business Types That Should Consider Going Native
- Native Advertising Examples and Publishers
- Native Advertising: How to Get Started
- Native Advertising: Roundtable Discussion Featuring 18 Native Ad Experts (Premium Content)
- The Future of Branded Content