Native Advertising: What You Need to Know

These days, pretty much anyone with a presence on social media eats, sleeps, and breathes ads. Whether you have ad-blockers downloaded or fully embrace ad culture, it’s probably true that you don’t take much time to consider what is actually being shown to you. Ads are often blatant, but recently many companies have implemented more underhanded techniques- and viewers are falling for it. Let’s talk facts about Native Advertising.

Native Advertising is a bit different from your typical t.v. ad or magazine spread. Instead, the advertiser’s goal  is to make their ads part of one’s ambient environment; hence the use of the word native. An important caveat to this idea is that these ads appear within the flow of non-sponsored content and are designed to trick many viewers into looking past the sponsorship, instead interpreting the content as trusted journalism.

For example, a Windsor Star article from November 23, 2017 titled “’Heart-centred, neighbourhood’ real estate firm puts client first” may appear to the average reader as a light-hearted article about local home-buyers. However, many may miss the small indication at the top of the piece stating this work was “sponsored by Century 21 Realty Inc. Brokerage”. In fact, looking further into this issue would reveal that this “article” has no element of truth: it’s simply a well-constructed ad for Century 21 disguised amongst true journalism.

The danger of Native Advertising, such as this Windsor Star example, is that it may go a little too far in convincing audiences of implicit messages. When ads got their start in the early 20th century the companies were obliged to declare their motivations to viewers so as not to corrupt innocent audiences. Any honesty that may have once existed in this industry has definitely vanished in recent times, largely in the name of native advertising.

Ads have become a part of daily life for the vast majority of the young population. Since we can’t change their presence, viewers should at least keep in mind the power that ads have to influence thoughts and beliefs.