The rise of digital marketing has spurred a flood of “native advertising” attempts, and now many consumer advocates are questioning whether native advertising is an unethical practice.
What is “native advertising” and is it ethical?
“Native advertising” is a type of paid marketing communication that tends to match the form and function of the medium or platform in which it appears. For example, if the native ad appears in a magazine, it will look like a magazine article. If it appears on a social media platform, it will look like a social media post for that platform.
There’s fuzziness as to what constitutes “native advertising,” but it can include product placement or embedded marketing, “infomercials” or “advertorials,” or be referred to as sponsored content or branded content.
With respect to digital platforms, most countries have regulations that require the platform, that is, the publisher, to identify native advertising with some type of disclosure such as using the word “sponsored” or “ad” or “featured partner.” But studies have shown that a great number of readers and viewers overlook those disclosures and think that the native ad is actually “native” published content, which was what the advertiser’s intention was in the first place.
Is it ethical? That’s for each viewer to decide. As for the marketers? Do not assume that you can fool your audience with your marketing techniques; today’s audiences are a lot more informed and intelligent than you might think.
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