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Was South Park right in its criticism of native advertising?

Feb 26, 2016

In today's post, we take a look at three news stories or commentary pieces from the week in native advertising.

Ad age uge 8

The first one is written by Ad Age guest contributor, Maria Shinkevich, CMO at native advertising company MGID. She concedes that it was with some merit, when Comedy Central's South Park lamented the state of digital advertising generally, and sponsored content specifically, during its most recent season:

Everyone's happy -- content publishers get relevant traffic, audiences get relevant content and brands get relevant audiences.

So what's the problem?

Well, as "South Park" deliciously spotlights, audiences may not know that the content they are dealing with is an ad. The industry has worked quite hard to sharpen disclosure and create standards for content delineation, but at some level, many still feel like they are being tricked. The reason is that online advertising (especially native advertising) is highly dynamic and flexible, which attracts those willing to abuse it.

If you haven't seen season 19 of South Park, here is a clip that encapsulates the show's take on sponsored content and the chaos of today's online experience: 

Let's move on to the next one:


So this one is brought to us by ExchangeWire. Native advertising is going to grow grow GROW in the coming 4-5 years:

With usage shift to mobile, the future of native advertising is looking good. Research by Yahoo and Enders Analysis projects an increase of 156% for native advertising over the next five years, resulting in a 52% share of European digital display advertising by 2020.

“Native advertising looks like a rare win-win for the industry: more effective for advertisers, more valuable for publishers, and more acceptable for users”, says Joseph Evans, digital media analyst at Enders Analysis. “Its suitability for mobile, social, and video contexts means that growth in native will contribute the large bulk of increased digital display spend.”

The article explains:

Several factors are responsible for the sharp growth, according to the study: With users increasingly accessing the internet via smartphone and tablet, the majority of native advertising growth will be on mobile. While €1.5bn (£1.17bn) were spent on mobile native advertising last year, the forecast estimates a future spend of €8.8bn (£6.8bn) in 2020. The projected overall spend on native advertising amounts to €13.2bn (£10.3bn).

And finally:

Yahoo native

Yahoo, by way of Mobile Marketing Watch, has announced that revenue from their native advertising solution Gemini is skyrocketing:

Native advertising is working out well for Yahoo. Just how well? The company has just released a new infographic that highlights the growth in question.

According to Yahoo’s Yannis Dosios, “Since Yahoo launched Gemini Ads in 2013, native advertising has grown exponentially. Currently, 100 percent of Gemini mobile advertisements are native, as well as over 50 percent of its desktop ads.”

If you want to know more, there is a nice infographic in the article. Of course, you can't help but wonder if Yahoo is trying to achieve something by releasing these figures, and maybe that something encourages Yahoo to make the figures slightly more promising than reality. But! That is just speculation.

Anders Vinderslev is a trained journalist and former editor and key contributor to the NAI blog. He has, according to himself, produced some of the most thought-provoking and impactful reporting on the state of native advertising. Today he works as a content creator and editor at Brand Movers, but from time to time he will deliver spicy takes on native advertising and sponsored content here at the NAI blog.

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