Contemporary formats for native advertising now include promoted videos, images, articles, commentary, music, and other various forms of media. A majority of these methods for delivering the native strategy have been relegated to an online presence, where it is most commonly employed as publisher produced brand content, a similar concept to the traditional advertorial. Alternative examples of modern technique include search advertising, when ads appear alongside search results that qualify as native to the search experience. Popular examples include, Twitter’s promoted Tweets, Facebook’s promoted stories, and Tumblr’s promoted posts.
The most traditionally influenced form of native marketing manifests as the placement of sponsor funded content alongside editorial content, or showing “other content you might be interested in” which is sponsored by a marketer alongside editorial recommendations. In most recent years of the millennium, the most notable form of native advertising has been sponsored content. The production of sponsored content sometimes abbreviated as “sponcon” involves inclusion of a third party along with a management company or a brand company’s personal relations and promotional activities team in reaching out to aforementioned considerably popular third party content producers on social media, often independent, deemed “influencers” in an attempt to promote a product. Often quoted as the predecessor to traditional endorsed and/or contract advertising; which would instead be featuring celebrities, sponsored content has indubitably become more and more popular on social media platforms in recent years likely due to their cost effectiveness, time efficiency, as well as the ability to receive instant feedback on the marketability of a product or service. Unlike traditional forms of native advertising, sponsored content alludes to requirement of and desire for transparency and thrives on the concept of preexisting and/or built up trust between consumer and content producer rather than creating a masked net impression, which is a reasonable consumer’s understanding of an advertisement.
The underlying motives of sponsored content, however, is similar to that of native advertising which is to inhibit a consumers’ ad recognition by blending the ad into the native content of the platform, making many consumers unaware they are looking at an ad to begin with. The sponsored content on social media, like any other type of native advertising, can be difficult to be properly identified by the Federal Trade Commission because of its ambiguous nature. Native advertising frequently bypasses this net impression standard, which makes it problematic. Sponsored videos involve the content producer/influencer including or mentioning the service/product for a particular amount of time within their video. This type of sponsorship is evident across all genres and levels of production regarding video content. There is a history of trouble between content producers and their transparency of sponsors regarding endorsement guidelines set by the Federal Trades Commission.
Most sponsored videos include a brief or a contract and can vary from client to client and affects the nature of promotion of the product as well as specific requirements such as length of the promotion period. Notable companies involved in this trade include Audible, Squarespace, Crunchyroll and Vanity Planet. Collaborative content has become more prominent on video platforms and social media in recent years. Content producers/influencers are usually contacted by companies for their creative input and voice in the makings of a product or provided with a discount code to gain a percentage of the profits after consumers incorporate the code as a part their purchase. Collaborative content may also include a brief or a contract and can vary from client to client however, there is a degree of flexibility as the finished product is supposedly a representation of the content producer. Notable companies involved in this trade include pixi, colourpop and MAC cosmetics.
As it is the nature of disguised advertising to blend with its surroundings, a clear disclosure is deemed necessary when employing native marketing strategy in order to protect the consumer from being deceived, and to assist audiences in distinguishing between sponsored and regular content. According to the Federal Trade Commission, means of disclosure include visual cues, labels, and other techniques. The most common practices of these are recognizable by understated labels, such as “Advertisement”, “Ad”, “Promoted”, “Sponsored”, “Featured Partner”, or “Suggested Post” in subtitles, corners, or the bottoms of ads. A widespread tendency in such measures is to mention the brand name of the sponsor, as in “Promoted by ”, “Sponsored by ”, or “Presented by ”. These can vary drastically due to the publisher’s choice of disclosure language i. e.
, wording used to identify native advertising placement. A study published by University of California researchers found that even labeled native advertising deceived about a quarter of survey research subjects. In the study, 27% of respondents thought that journalists or editors wrote an advertorial for diet pills, despite the presence of the “Sponsored Content” label. Because the Federal Trade Commission can bring cases concerning practices that mislead a substantial minority of consumers, the authors conclude that many native advertising campaigns are probably deceptive under federal law. The authors also explain two theories of why native advertising is deceptive. First, the schema theory suggests that advertorials mislead by causing consumers not to trigger their innate skepticism to advertising.
Second, advertorials also cause source based misleadingness problems by imbuing advertising material with the authority normally assigned to editorial content. Recognition percentages remain low even as native advertising has expanded in pervasiveness. An academic article published in 2017 has shown that only 17% of participants could identify native advertising and even if readers were primed, that number only increased to 27%. Moreover, when readers learned about covert advertising, their perceptions of the publications declined.