Last part of the miniseries: 9 native advertising experts explain the popularity of native advertising – and 1 disbeliever tears it apart [10:10]

By Stine F. Mathiasen, Head of Content & Creative at Benjamin_Creative
Aug 3, 2015

We have said it so many times that, by now, we are almost (just, almost!) tired of repeating ourselves. But that doesn't make it less true: Native advertising is THE thing right now. But why is that so? And how do you become successful in your work with native advertising? Instead of us babbling away with our own answers, we want to take it to the next level, and let some of the absolute experts in native advertising give us the answers.

We have asked nine great native advertising experts about the popularity of the discipline, and we have published their answers here on the blog, one by one. And now, at the very end – to try and balance out the 'hallelujah' feel of native advertising on this blog – we will also let one disbeliever of native advertising speak his mind. Let us introduce the tenth expert - and the great native advertising disbeliever. Please welcome ...:

Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler

Doug is co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, the London-based B2B content marketing agency. Doug Kessler has written a lot about content marketing including the B2B Marketing Manifesto, the B2B Content Strategy Checklist and Crap: Why the Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing.

Why is native advertising so popular?

"Native advertising is popular because it gives publishers a new way to make money – advertising was broken – and it gives brands a chance to reach audiences in an editorial mode. The new digital publishers built businesses on it and the legacy ones are desperate to get a piece."

Why are YOU not a big fan of native advertising?

"I don't hate all native advertising but a lot of it is based on intentionally blurring the lines between advertising and editorial. The disclosure statements are cryptically-worded or tiny or both. And the paid content masquerades as pure editorial – in format, font and placement. That's why it's called 'native' (if it weren't trying to act like editorial, it would just be called advertising). I think that betrays the hard-won trust of the readers. Trust that cannot be won back.

For entertainment stuff – like most of BuzzFeed, nobody seems to care. A funny cat video is still a funny cat video even if it's sponsored by a pet food company. But an article on the future of energy is NOT independent if it's sponsored by Chevron (as the New York Times did) and an article about David Miscavidge is NOT independent if it's paid for by the Scientology Church (as the Atlantic was caught doing).

As a reader, I don't like discovering, half way through an article, that it's a paid-for piece with a hidden agenda."

How can the industry then proceed with native advertising and do it with integrity?

"I would like to see clear separation between paid for and not paid-for content. Not the weasely terms we see now ("Pro Network Content", "Partner Story", etc.).

Today, we are all worried that sponsored content will be seen as second-class and so we need to hide its origin. But if brands get really good at content, consumers will stop assuming sponsored content is second class. Then we won't have to hide its origins and smuggle it into editorial sections.

So being more honest and making sure branded content is as good as or better than anything else out there are two strong starts. But in some areas, like news or investigative work, a paid source will always distort.

In these areas, I want a trusted intermediary. I want an editor and journalists. I don't want my news sponsored by anyone."

In her position as Head of Content & Creative, Stine is responsible for every piece of quality content the bureau creates. Starting out as a journalist, Stine worked for years at various interior magazines, as well as editing the home and design sections of some of Denmark’s most-read daily papers. Because of her strong will to develop and nurture projects from scratch, she has been on board Aller Media’s office of innovation. Here, she helped develop a lifestyle magazine for the Japanese market. In recent years, Stine helped initiate the Native Advertising Institute’s blog. Today, in her position at the fast-growing content marketing bureau Benjamin_Creative, she produces content and native ads for a large and diverse group of clients — from big shopping malls to even bigger design brands.

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