No Need To Hide, Just Make Advertising And/Or Content Worth Showcasing

On this week’s edition of The BeanCast — the best podcast about Marketing on the air — I claim that “Native Advertising” is the dumbest term that I’ve ever heard. And it is, but even worse than the term itself is the fuzzy thinking behind it. It’s no wonder that no one even knows what it means, much less how, when or why to execute a Native campaign.


Rebecca Lieb an analyst for Altimeter Group, writing for iMediaConnection, says the term “Native Advertising” raises more questions than it does answers. Indeed.

My first question is, why – in The Age of Knowledge and Transparency – are we talking about hiding advertising so it appears to be something it is not? Doing so merely reinforces our industry’s processed cheese factor. It says, “Yes, we are a bunch of quacks trying to sell people a bill of goods.”

Lieb writes:

The fly in the ointment is that without a real definition of native advertising, it means anything you want it to mean. Or anything whoever’s trying to sell it to you wants it to mean. Confusion in the marketplace is not a good thing (though it can benefit certain constituents).

She goes on to say she is working to define Native Advertising and that she welcomes input. I have input. I believe Native is “a neologism for what we used to call advertorial.” Thus, I fail to see the need for it.

The need we have is to raise the bar on advertorial, and I contend it is easy to do and worth doing. The thing to realize when we talk about producing any form of brand-sponsored content is how money solves many problems. The fact is, brands have the money to invest in journalists, filmmakers and other storytellers — and smart brands like RedBull are already doing a great job of this.

On The BeanCast, host Bob Knorpp, asked what role ad agencies can play in all this. The answer is simple. Agencies play the role they always play, creating a framework for a client’s storytelling needs and managing the million details involved in creating and distributing not just ad campaigns, but media products.

Previously on AdPulp: Hello Advertorial, Nice To See You Again



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.