From the Viewsroom

From the Views Room: Full disclosures, please

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on January 20, 2018

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The murky side of native advertising

Digital marketers today are a panicked lot. First, ad frauds blindsided them. Now ad-blockers are giving them nightmares. At the recent ad:tech conference in Delhi, digital marketers could be heard discussing strategies to get around ad-blockers. The consensus was that Native Advertising — advertising content that is designed to blend in with a publisher’s content — is the way forward in the online space. Unlike display or banner ads, ad blockers cannot get to them. According to Business Insider Intelligence, spending on online native advertisements is expected to grow from $7.9 billion in 2015 to over $21 billion by 2018. Entire content factories are coming up to create native advertising, producing powerful emotive content. Think about those cute pet articles in online journals that you share so often. Many of them are actually native advertising by pet food companies. But most consumers fail to spot the difference between native advertising and editorial content as despite disclosures, they blend into your social media feed, or mobile app content or online journal page seamlessly.

In a study in the Journal of Advertising, two professors from the Grady College, Bartosz W Wojdynski and Nathaniel J Evans, showed that barely 7 per cent of viewers could identify the native advertising content as advertising — even if they carried disclosures or labels. In print media, advertising content goes under the label of sponsored content or advertorials and are governed by fairly strict rules. In the online space, the labels on native ads are often ambiguous. They are placed in a discreet corner. In the US the Federal Trade Commission has spelt out guidelines for online publishers and advertisers on native ads. Can we have them, please?

Chitra Narayanan Editorial Consultant

Published on March 06, 2016

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