Please Beware of Native Advertising!

For class this past Thursday, some of us were assigned a brief TED Talk entitled “The Moral Bias Behind Your Search Results.” It talked about how most people think of Google as a source for unbiased, unabridged, accurate, factual information. If you have a question, go to Google if you want the correct answer, right? But in the TED Talk, the speaker actually


The Moral Bias Behind Your Search Results

points out how this is not the case. There is subjectivity all around you, and you need to be aware of it. Google can choose what to share as a top result, or what pictures to filter in their images search, for example; from a consumers’ perspective, Google can basically control what is facts and what isn’t. But lets take a step back- what about news sources like CNN? Magazines like Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal?


Welcome Native Advertising, the latest vehicle of consumerism that is going to make you distrust everything around you.


It is defined as follows: Native advertising is a type of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, an article written by an advertiser to promote their product, but using the same form as an article written by the editorial staff.

Lets try to put that definition in another way. Basically, when you are reading content that is objective in various different media platforms, or watching objective content on CNN or other news channels, subjective content may begin to emerge. And you will not realize it. It is literally designed to prevent consumers from realizing that it is any different from the objective advertising, and you end up believing that it is true and factual, and changing your consumer behavior based on that information.

I wonder why Netflix would want to advertise not going places on Thanksgiving? Did you even notice the Netflix sponsorship?

An article on The Atlantic: “As Big Data Emerges, a New Role Emerges: The Chief Data Officer.” It is written in a very objective format, and slyly points out the benefits of having a chief data officer. Guess which company is the leading solutions provider for implementing CDO’s in organizations? IBM. Guess which company sponsored this article using native advertising? You guessed it, IBM.
What about subjective content, where you are seeking opinions from regular consumers just like me and you? Native advertising has taken over that entire realm as well. Almost 90% of the articles that you and I read on Buzzfeed (which is RAPIDLY increasing in popularity) are subject to native advertising. For example, there’s a quiz on Buzzfeed that asks you to input certain answers to questions, and it tells you what the best snack is for you. Guess which answer shows up for the most different combinations of answers? Dannon Oiskos. Guess who used native advertising to sponsor the article? You’re starting to catch my drift!buzzfeed native ad
And the worst part is, the vast majority of the American Public is unaware of what native advertising even is. Its popularity and use has only recently starting gaining traction; Vanity Fair in 2010 was the first major media source to utilize it. The Federal Trade Commission has left it largely unregulated, leading consumers that have finally caught on (such as myself) basically screaming for people to wake up and realize the profound affects native advertising could be having on their daily lives.
This is an extra blog post for this class, but having discovered what native advertising is, I find it necessary to share with others as a responsible consumer. What are your thoughts on native advertising? Do you have a problem with it, and if so, what actions might you recommend we take?


  1. I think native advertising is an awful development as the Internet is slowly developing into an advertising-focused machine. This strikes me as crossing a line in online advertising. As you mentioned, there needs to be some sort of regulation on this type of content. The Internet is so new and growing so quickly while law and regulation are lagging processes. New information such as this further establishes a theory of mine that all of the websites as essentially advertising platforms. All of these companies have missions to spread knowledge or connect people and what it really comes down to is how much money can be made via these platforms. Most of the money comes from advertising, so there you have it. Great post, and I feel better now that I am no longer ignorant to this type of content.

  2. Native advertising is something I have particular interest in, mostly because digital advertising is something I would love to work in. While many are likely infuriated by the amount of advertising in supposedly objective content, I would like to point out that this isn’t the first time a media source became a den of advertising. If you look at radio, television, newspapers, and the like, they all are covered with advertising, and people need to be aware that deals need to be made for profits to be generated. While Native Advertising does seemingly take away objectivity, consumers need to realize the hardware necessary for maintaining huge online presences, and the amount of expenses needed to maintain that hardware. It’ll be interesting to see if any legislation is passed regarding subliminal native advertising, but that’s a topic for another day, great post!

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