Going Native.

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.