Native Advertising Trend Has Some (Including Google) Concerned

    May 19, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Native advertising spend is on the rise, and is expected to reach $4.57 billion in 2017. For comparison, last year it was at $1.63 billion, and is projected to hit $2.36 billion this year.

When we talk about native advertising, we’re talking about the kind of ads that take the form of content that users might expect to see on the site anyway. This can come in the form of videos, images, articles, tweets, status updates or other media, but all in all, it’s a trend that is rising quickly. Even as the trend is clearly pointing upward, some are concerned about what this means for the future of content and paid messaging, as a new eMarketer report indicates.

Do you think native advertising is a good direction for online ads to be trending in? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

For a better understanding of native advertising, take a look at this infographic Solve Media put out a few months ago (via Mashable), attempting to explain it:

Native Advertising

Despite those trying to draw lines between adverotirals and native advertising, Google pretty much sees them as going hand in hand. This makes sense, because either way, it’s a message that is being paid for, and if it’s being paid for, and it’s passing PageRank, that is a violation of Google’s quality guidelines, and will get you penalized.

In fact, while this is already something Google has frowned upon, the company has recently indicated that it will be cracking down on this more, so beware of that.

We recently looked at a video from Google’s Matt Cutts in which he ran down a lot of the changes Google is planning on making in the coming months, and he specifically talked about advertorials and native advertising during part of it. Here’s the video again, in case you missed it:

“We’ve also been looking at advertorials,” he said. “That is sort of native advertising – and those sorts of things that violate our quality guidelines. So, again, if someone pays for coverage, or pays for an ad or something like that, those ads should not flow PageRank. We’ve seen a few sites in the U.S. and around the world that take money and do link to websites, and pass PageRank, so we’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcement as advertorials that violate our quality guidelines.”

“There’s nothing wrong inherently with advertorials or native advertising, but they should not flow PageRank, and there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure, so that users realize that something is paid – not organic or editorial,” he added.

So, even as we see more and more of this kind of advertising saturating the web, webmasters better make sure they’re not also saturating Google’s index, because the search giant will not be shy about holding your site accountable, and that could have the opposite effect from the one you intended with the advertorial in the first place. Good luck finding advertisers when your site can’t be found in Google.

Beyond Google, as mentioned, others are also concerned about the native advertising trend.

“Although business prospects for native advertising are positive, the medium has its detractors,” says eMarketer. “Some media executives and marketers are wary of the blurring of lines between content and advertising that occurs with native ads, particularly in the context of news sites. Others question the return on investment of these ads, arguing that native ads cannot scale for multiple placements.”

They point to recent research from MediaBrix, which found that a high percentage of U.S. Internet users find ads that appear as content misleading:

Misleading ads

“Despite the potential backlash against misunderstood native ads, media sites under monetization pressure are turning to native advertising to drive digital revenue,” says eMarketer. “Notable examples include Forbes, The Atlantic and The Washington Post. Others such as CNN and Hearst have said they are considering it.”

You can find eMarketer’s report here.

Are you concerned about native ads, or is this the future of online marketing? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.workwithclintbutler.com Clint Butler

    Its funny to hear that marketing agencies are against native advertising on the internet. They have been using the same techniques in magazines and newspapers for years. Have you picked up a magazine about weight lifting lately. There advertisers have three or four page “articles” talking about how their latest product did this amazing thing. The entire ad is presented as content, so why should advertisers on the internet be somehow held to a higher marketing standard?

  • http://vowads.com Roney

    Relevant content advertising is something that takes a lot of effort to do and requires content to be delivered through specific websites that meet the criterea therefore will reduce the delivery rate. It’s definetly possible but wont be as fluid as cpc banner or textual advertisment and google wont need to worry as long as they remain the number one search engine in the world.

  • http://ticell.com Budi

    Amazing article, native advertising will useful on some website with high traffic but must a meet the criteria so can of generation the positive income because advertising like banner and text very which precise especially in placing code ads on potential website if this really the launching when Google will have a competitors. indeed realistic for year 2013 has been of appear the new advertising company .

  • http://iloveyouvietnam.blogspot.com/?m=0 herolove

    Relevant content advertising is something that takes a lot of effort to do and requires content to be delivered through specific websites that meet the criterea therefore will reduce the delivery rate. It’s definetly possible but wont be as fluid as cpc banner or textual advertisment and google wont need to worry as long as they remain the Kick

  • http://easyonlineclassifieds.com/ John Hogan

    Fact of the matter is Web Sites are large Advertorials as they are built by someone who profits from the work (paid for). Sites from the same IP address which allow user contributed content (forums, classifieds, news, etc) could also be considered Advertorials. Disallowing page rank to outside links is a simple matter and if that is all Google wants then that should be done.

    I just hope that Google is fair to ALL parties regarding its policies including the Yellow Pages, Linkedin, Manta, Amazon, and all the Big players in the game…

    When something (small or large company) STOPS being FAIR I stop using them entirely. Tryed to do that with the IRS though – Didnt get me far.

  • Orikinla Osinachi

    The core of native advertising is content marketing and Google should be concerned, because most publishers of blogs and other websites are making more money from native advertising than Google AdSense. A popular Nigerian blogger has made 500 times more from content marketing adverts on her blog than what she has made from Google AdSense. Earnings from Pay Per Click and impressions are peanuts when compared to earnings from content adverts.

  • mike

    Gee you mean Google doesn’t want advertising to appear on sites they rank high? Gee I wonder why?

    Apparently Google is the only one who should be profiting from Advertising.

    Now what does Google Search do exactly? That’s right they organize OTHER PEOPLES CONTENT/WORK then they use that to sell ads.

    Boo hoo Google.

    • http://www.leadtail.com Karri

      Yes, at a very basic level, that does seem to be the message.

      There are, after all, millions of publishers – only one Google. Wonder how long they will be able to unilaterally set the rules?

      • norm

        Not long if you don’t follow them. I abandoned Google and Aadwords and Adsense and also paypal a few years back and I’m making a ton more money across the board. I make more, I sleep better.. my partners are small enough they care about my revenue stream. Google is Microsoft all over again.

  • http://www.bloggershost.com Leonard

    The question that arises in my mind is about Google possibly mistaking regular reviews and mentions as paid ads. The examples would be Squidoo and other revenue sharing sites where content is written to draw traffic for the purpose of generating an income.

    How would Google know the difference so the penalties do not hit those that are not paid ads?

  • http://www.infographicsubmission.com Tenoch

    Yeah, I hate those deceptive tactics too. Like how those paid ads in Google’s SERPs keep looking more an more like organic results (e.g. the box around the ads has gotten lighter and lighter), or how Google’s shopping results are now paid only…

    Caveat emptor.

    Dear Google, STFU and stop trying to police the internet for your own gains.

  • http://www.opace.co.uk Opace

    Interesting post and discussion!

  • norm

    You have to be an idiot to depend on Google for your marketing. No, not an idiot, an idiot in the making. Leaning on Google is no better than having one customer. Google could be gone tomorrow and my sales wouldn’t be touched one bit… that is real strength. I see the end of Google’s dominance coming the same way the USA lost it’s leadership… too many laws, rules and regulations the smart money sets up shop elsewhere.

  • http://fishandcrane.com Peter

    Google walks the fine monopoly line..a major slip up or an unbalanced political donation ledger and regulation will knock on their door. In the meantime-why do link spammers still have value?

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Gracious Store

    Native advertising which is same as content marketing counts toward PR but not paid ads. This is good for marketers who do native advertising

  • http://www.multimediadesigns.net Susan Reed

    I have a question. I recently learned of a guy that created a blog about a specific product (all home owners have this product on their house). He then got companies that repair and replace these types of products to ‘sign up’ with him for sales leads. When people go to the site and type in a zip code a list of companies are displayed on the screen for users to call one of these companies to come repair or replace this product. Since he charges for leads – aren’t these considered “paid links”? Will Google penalize this website? But how is this different than people paying for an ad in the yellow pages?