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Native Advertising Needs to Shift to Purposeful Content

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Written by on August 7, 2014

Last Sunday, John Oliver of the popular show Last Week Tonight looked at the troubling state of native advertising, and it is a slap in the face for media companies and brands.

He argues about the separation between the business side of news and the editorial side, starting with a great example from NBC in 1952, which was sponsored by Camel cigarettes. It's quite amusing considering the challenges we are faced with today.

And it isn't just sponsored by Camel, a little over halfway into the news broadcast, they have created a 'news' segment for a brand of inflatable swimming pools (at 8:55). This is exactly what native advertising promises today.

Note: Also see the 'supermarket of news' strategy that I wrote about a few weeks ago. This broadcast covers pretty much everything, rom disasters to weather, sport, fashion, leisure, and foreign reports.

In John Oliver's show (which you can see below), he makes many very good points and it's worth watching. The last segment of his video brilliantly illustrates just how bad a match 'news' and 'brand promotions' really are.

So watch the video below, and then I will explain why I actually see a very interesting future for native advertising. One that requires a complete transformation of the world of news that we know today.

So, does this mean that native advertising is bad? That it will erode the neutrality and trustworthiness of news like in the 1950s? And, for brands, will it turn out to be yet another wasted form of exposure similar to banner ads?

Yes... and no.

Native advertising today is mostly a dead duck. When big brands pay Buzzfeed to write listicles of "9 ways to do something in a shallow way", it's basically just wasted time. And the long term potential is almost non-existent.

But as I have said before, I see great opportunities for the future of native advertising, but not in the way we do it today.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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