Going Native.

by Doug Weaver on April 2, 2013 at 7:41AM

Going NativeLast month in this space I suggested that the term “programmatic” had outlived its usefulness — if it was ever really useful in the first place.  As an intellectual construct it’s become little more than a dumping ground for unrelated terms — sort of a “village of lost toys” for ad technology.  I proposed that publishers and sales leaders break it all down to two distinct issues:  automated process reform (APR) and dynamic pricing policy (DPP).

To be fair, “native advertising” has got to go too.

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Digiday recently did some on-camera interviews with a half-dozen publishers and asked them for their definitions of “Native.”  Predictably, they got six pretty different answers.  Everything from “product placement” to sponsored tweets to “anything that’s not a banner” has been unceremoniously dumped in the Native Advertising hopper.  Some even argue that it should include “sponsorship” — which I think was an advertising buzzword back in the Taft administration.  Yes, it’s definitely time to click on “Empty Native Advertising Bin” and start over.

As with our dissection of “Programmatic,” the post-mortem on “Native” includes viable concepts that are not necessarily related to one another.  I count three:

User Action Integration.   This is perhaps the one phenomenon that marketers should be rightly jacked up about.  Digital is most compelling when it’s about action — the consumer doing something — and in this model, the marketer or brand becomes an actor by using the same tools and protocols available to consumers.

Yielding the Floor.  If the web is a marketplace of ideas, the marketer no longer wants to sit on the margins and scream for attention.  My journalism teacher Mr. Roberge would turn over in his grave to hear it, but we’ve dumped the term editorial in favor of the much more malleable content.  And marketers are being empowered and abetted by digital publishers to generate their share of that content.

Social Acceleration.  We can not divorce the interest in Native Advertising from its most principal motivator:  social relevance.  The social genie is out of the bottle and marketers see in it a proxy for attention, focus, impact — all they hold most dear.  “Make people talk about us, with us, for us.”   Dismiss the social arms race at your own peril.

Ending the now vacuous and fleeting “Native” conversation allows us to begin a new dialogue with marketers about what digital can do — well, actually three conversations.






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Reader Comments (3)

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  1. Mark McLaughlin April 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Since the dawn of digital, the digerati have been determined to name common advertising techniques with new names that are certain to confuse the people who control marketing and advertising budgets but did not grow up with digital media.

    If all of us in the digital industry wanted to pick a strategy for naming things so that we would SLOW DOWN the tip of advertising budgets from their legacy channels into our beloved Internet channel, we could not have done a better job than we have done in the past 15 years.

    Heck, we still use “Share of Voice” in a manner that has nothing to do with the way that marketing executives use that term.

    Doug’s column this week is all about something that we have called “integrated sponsorships” for at least 30 years. But no, that term won’t do for us digerati types, let’s confuse the heck out of those dinosaurs who were not born digital and call it “native” advertising.

    Doug’s new terms to make sense of “programatic” and “native” are definitely an improvement but I have a really crazy idea — when a term already exists in the advertising industry for do something or measuring something that we want to emphasize as a valuable way to use the Internet, let’s try using the terms that already exist.

    How did God punish man for his arrogance? — He made them all speak different languages.

  2. scot April 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

    DW, i guess i didnt really “miss” anything since i do understand the three conversations that you propose and never did “get” the natiive discussion.

  3. Rodney Mayers April 3, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    In the race to be cool, the fact still remains that a) all advertising is driven by a problem the market has (e.g. needs to increase share of wallet, share of mind, move product, change perception, position against competitor, get brand statement out to as many people as possible and have it stick – called differentiation, remember that one?); b) irrespective of medium, the advertiser has to determine the best way to use the medium and construct a mix that helps him/her achieve one of the goals in a).

    If native advertising supports the goal, great. If radio supports the goal, great. If TV supports the goal with a call to action online, great. If the native ad is horse squeeze, it ain’t gonna help.

    We are in a communications industry but fail to communicate every day. We are seduced by the sexy buzzwords and sassy elegance of the new whilst all the time forgetting that the best communication is actually very simple, very basic and appeals to that human thing inside of all of us. We are natively human. Find that commonality and present your case Mr. and Mrs. Brand but remember to deliver that promise when I show up where ever you are, or else, I’ll be natively human and discard all of your future messages.

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