Native Advertising: Nothing New Under the Sun or a Revolutionary Development in the World of Marketing Communications? (26/03/14)

Native Advertising: Nothing New Under the Sun or a Revolutionary Development in the World of Marketing Communications?


Native advertising has been one of the buzzwords in the marketing world for some time now. It seems that there are as many definitions of native advertising as the number of articles discussing the subject. We will not produce a new one. We quite like the definition of native advertising given by Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer: ‘Advertising that takes advantage of a platform in the ways consumers are actually using it’. Given the above, it is clear that native advertising could not and should not be limited to digital platforms only.

The occurrence of eNative advertising is far from unusual and quite natural for several reasons. It developed due to the increasing unpopularity and low adoption rates of traditional formats in online advertising such as floating banners, frame ads, pop-ups and the like. Secondly and most importantly, brands are playing an increasingly important part in our lives, becoming an integral part of us: just imagine a day without your iPhone with you! Therefore, we are surrounded by them, chat about them, dream about them, endorse them, and we don’t mind (or actually quite enjoy) coming across content that makes a reference to a brand in a context that we have chosen to spend our precious time reading and appreciate. Native advertising is not subtle, it’s not discreet; it just gives you some extra knowledge on the same topic you are absorbed by already, in the same style and tone of voice. It feels normal and natural (especially if you compare it to the flashing red banner on the right hand side craving for your undivided attention).

But how does Native relate to Outdoor advertising? The answer is simple: Outdoor advertising is Native advertising!

Outdoor advertising, by its very nature is integrated into audiences’ “content stream” (Kantar Media, 2013). Consumers are alert, mobile, in buying mode and easily filter only outdoor ad content they are interested in. In this sense OOH advertising has always been Native advertising. The relevance to consumers’ context is achieved through different environments targeting audiences according to activity, proximity and mind-set. Touchscreen games on digital panels, voucher downloads through QR codes, voting mechanisms, buzz marketing messages are only several examples of the Native nature of Outdoor advertising.

OOH advertising does take advantage of a platform in the ways consumers are actually using it. For example, travel boredom is often killed by OOH promotion. This is why people value it highly: it is extremely relevant to their contexts, environments and circumstances. Maybe Native advertising is nothing new on the table as a concept, recognisable under multiple terminologies and clearly suffering from definition stress. It has been in existence for a long time, and it has been developing intensively within its Outdoor advertising stream: interactive OOH continuously redefines its boundaries of audience engagement levels, mainly due to technology advancement and advanced targeting techniques.

The Guardian recently reported the following on the topic: ‘It’s (native advertising) non-disruptive to audiences, if people don’t want to pay attention to it, they can pass on by. Outdoor prides itself on being unique from other media in this sense.’

So I revert back to the beginning. We must review its digital roots. The strict definition of native advertising is somewhat ambiguous, the fundamental principle of native advertising is that it is contextual, adaptable and adheres to its surroundings.

Outdoor has been doing this for years.

Read the full article here: Advertising Week