ADOTAS – In a move to fuel healthy industry discussion, the German online ad-blocking technology company Adblock Plus is allowing its community to publicly debate the fate of Native Ads. The emerging format that integrates branded and editorial content has been hotly debated in recent months, not only because it blurs the lines between advertising and editorial, but because there is not yet an industry standard definition for what “native” really means.
“At the basic level, native ads are paid experiences that are complementary to the platform and content in which they are presented,” wrote Ken Willner, CEO of Zumobi in All Things D earlier this year. “While examples include Sponsored Stories on Facebook or Sponsored Tweets on Twitter, this doesn’t quite do the term justice. Truly native advertising takes things one step further, referring to seamlessly integrating brands into the medium, so much so that the consumer gets more value from the advertising as part of a greater content consumption experience.”
Ad industry journalist Peter Kafka offers the opinion that native advertising is about “selling stuff that people want to look at.” And native allows people to start thinking about brands, without making the ads blatant or disruptive.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently formed a group of advertisers and publishers to define parameters for the native ad format and recently published the IAB Native Advertising Playbook, but it left out an important group from the equation: users.
So Adblock Plus has called upon its large open source community of users to publicly debate whether to update the Acceptable Ads evaluative framework to acknowledge native ads, and to define if any forms of native advertising might meet the Acceptable Ads criteria.
“When I met with different companies and media folks at ad:tech New York last month, it was clear that native ads was one of the most popular topics there, not to mention an attempt by the ad industry to go in a new direction,” said Ben Williams, PR director, Adblock Plus. “As the bridge between users and online advertising, we felt like we should take an active role in the discussion around native ads. The IAB’s playbook is an important start to the conversation, but we wanted to engage the other side and get users involved, too.”
“As online advertising formats evolve, it is our responsibility at Adblock Plus to understand them and define when these new formats should be blocked, and if and when they can be classified as Acceptable Ads,” said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus and the open-source project that supports it. “On the one hand, native ads are a positive reaction against ad intrusiveness; on the other hand, the seamless integration of advertising within editorial content blurs what we think should be a clearly distinguishable line between the two. So we are calling upon our public forum of Internet users to form an opinion and suggest some guidelines.”
While our industry is reliant on keeping the online advertising business alive, there is a need to offer consumers the option to removing ads they don’t wish to see. In the age of banner-blindness and ad fatigue, both publishers and advertisers can benefit from delivering ads only to those targeted consumers who wish to receive them. This leads to higher conversion rates and less ad waste – a win for consumers, advertisers and publishers.