Native Ads and the Media Industry

There was a discussion on the future of native advertising in the always-worthwhile Exponent podcast that I found interesting.

James Allworth, one of the co-hosts, was concerned that having journalists (BuzzFeed staffers, specifically) working on native ads on behalf of advertisers will corrupt their integrity. This is a valid concern; however, it is also likely to be transitory.

Back in the 1990s, many newspapers were building websites and wanted ads on them. So they built in-house agencies that would craft the banner ads on behalf of the client. These in-house agencies soon realized that the ad needed to go somewhere when clicked upon. So they helped their clients build actual websites. That’s right, many newspapers had entire in-house for-hire web design firms operating inside of them. Many print papers did this back in the day as well with print ads. Some local and community papers surely still do it.

Once the web matured as a medium, and digital agencies arrived in the late 90s and 2000s, the papers no longer needed to provide website and banner building services.

It will be the same way with native ads. Within a few years, undergraduate marketing and communications majors will be well-versed in content marketing and storytelling and such and they will go to work for agencies and brands writing listicles and charts and GIFs.  And then the BuzzFeed journalists won’t have to do it anymore.