Right now, there are plenty of guidelines for native advertising. And that’s not so strange. With an expected growth rate of 15 per cent in the ...

Can we ban bad native advertising?

Right now, there are plenty of guidelines for native advertising. And that’s not so strange. With an expected growth rate of 15 per cent in the coming year, we need clarity and a framework. But when will there be a ban against poor quality?

Both Swedish Magazine Publishers’ Association and The Swedish Media Publishers’ Association have recently issued new recommendations for native advertising. And later this year, IAB will update their guidelines.

The focus is – of course, as always – on the question of ad labelling. Both organisations demand clarity, and that’s good. The word ‘ad’ is preferred, and according to Swedish Magazine Publishers’ Association, the labels ‘Advertisement’ and ‘ad sponsorship’ are also approved.

Moreover, they emphasise the importance of labelling the ad ‘in screen’, that is, it follows the content regardless where it gets published. For instance in social media. An obvious precaution, one would think, and something that can easily be arranged, but something that publishers like to cheat with. Probably with the advertisers’ good memory.

And there we have the next problem…

Native that builds relationships?

The reason ad labelling is so heavily discussed depends on advertisers that are off the mark, and on publishers who want to please them. To not have a clear ad label is in my opinion wasting your message. As an advertiser, you should want to be very clear that you’re the sender to what is – hopefully – quality content that meets the recipients’ needs and provide them with more value.

Native advertising builds relationships, and even if the relationship starts with a simple click, it is the time the recipient spends with the content that deepens the relationship. Relationships built on lies (sloppy advertising) and deceptive information (click baits) are doomed to fail. At the expense of both the advertisers’ and publishers’ trust.

Which leads us to the next problem…

About time to place demands on quality

Even if the ad labels are important, there is one aspect of native advertising that stubbornly gets forgotten: Quality.

When will we see rules and guidelines to the content, and when will advertisers and publishers be punished for wasting consumers’ time and their own credibility?

A brand that publishes native content that does not maintain high quality – at least as high as the platform on which it is published – and publishers who stoop so low to allow low quality content, are both on a sinking ship. They are playing a dangerous game with their customers’ and consumers’ trust and they add to the bad reputation that native advertising supposedly has.

Three tips to the advertiser:

  1. Only produce content that meets recipients’ needs. Add more value!
  2. Collaborate with a publisher that stands for quality, both when it comes to editorial content and native.
  3. Demand that the publisher doesn’t cheat with the ad label and ensure that it is clear that you’re the sender.

Three tips to the publisher:

  1. Only produce native content of high quality that adds value to your readers. Turn down bad content and click baits. Remember that you’re lending out your credibility to the advertiser.
  2. Never compromise with labelling the ad. If your advertiser is serious and stands for its content, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
  3. Only collaborate with advertisers whose brand you want to be associated with. Remember that your advertisers and their content become a part of your publishing brand.