While native advertising is meant to blend in with its surroundings, it is by no means meant to play tricks on readers. The most successful native advertising campaigns are clear in their aim, and build the brand’s credibility and trust among potential customers. These brands need to demonstrate that they are experts in the subject matter, and can even be thought leaders.
But nothing lets readers down (or publishers for that matter) like finding out that brands were trying to play mind games. For example, popular publishers like BuzzFeed gain all their revenue from native ads, and the digital revenue sector of the Atlantic depends on this model for over half of its income, so it is important that the native advertising model sustains a method that is both honest and straightforward when it comes to separating news and advertisements.
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to know the truth upfront rather than find it out after the fact. Being led to believe one thing will undoubtedly build resentment and distrust when reality surfaces. When the end goal is to gain trust, practicing deception certainly won’t help a brand in the long run.
But it isn’t just brand integrity on the line. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also made strides in ensuring that brands explicitly disclose if an article is sponsored content. The disclosure must be prominent no matter where the article is being displayed – whether via print, online or mobile.
Publishers use different types of disclaimers to notify readers of native advertising. These labels must be clearly placed on the content, showing readers that that particular content is separate from the rest of the content on the site or in the magazine. Some call it “sponsored content,” others label it as “promoted content,” and a few prefer the term “brand content.” Or it can be something as simple as a label that reads “advertising.”
The trick is in finding the right wording that encourages readers to make an informed decision before consuming the content. To many readers the label doesn’t matter: Even when they see that the content is sponsored, they may already be hooked by the value of the headline and lead.
Finding the wording that works best for your readers may be a practice of trial and error, but it should always be built on trust and honesty. When brands offer a higher level of transparency, consumers may look more favorably upon the content and find the value in each post.