Marketers to Reconsider Native Ad Use

Is it an ad or is it part of the content? More consumers are asking this question when they encounter promotional material masquerading as part of the article they’re reading or the video they're watching. Research shows there is a right way to go about embedding ads in content and marketers who ignore this do so at their own peril.

MediaBrix, with research firm Harris Interactive, recently surveyed consumers on their opinions about ads that look like content in a variety of formats – both traditional and digital. This type of advertising is labeled native. MediaBrix researchers wanted to know what consumers thought about the ads and the brands behind them. The percentages of consumers who have seen these ads in the past year and say they are misleading:

  • Twitter promoted tweets 45%
  • Facebook sponsored stories 57%
  • Sponsored video ads 86%

Similar numbers of consumers say the same about magazine advertorials.

Well over half of surveyed consumers also report that their perception of brands engaging in this type of advertising was either unchanged or negatively impacted. If marketers are aiming to impress potential customers with this strategy, it’s clearly not working.

Ari Brandt, CEO for MediaBrix, underscores this finding by saying, “we also need to ensure that we are direct and honest with consumers about when they are being marketed to.” However, not everyone agreed with these findings. An AdWeek article reported that Facebook has experienced positive results with this format and sees no evidence of negative brand impact. This may come down to whether brands are marketing to fans or not. It could be that native ads will succeed with current customers but may not work well when attracting new customers. In any case, the findings should make marketers think about their strategies with respect to native ads.

[Sources: Adults Perceive Misleading Ads. Mediabrix. 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012; Moses, Lucia. Do Native Ads Work? Adweek. 5 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.