The internet was set alight last week with witty remarks from Jonathan Perelman, vice president of BuzzFeed, at this year’s Abu Dhabi Media Summit as he proclaimed users are, “more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad”. His comments are timely as the industry has recently woken up to the effectiveness of so-called “Native Advertising” and the caution that needs to be taken when engaging in this form of promotional messaging.

Native advertising is, by its very nature, difficult to define. It usually takes the form of promoted or sponsored content, most likely woven into social media sites, which seamlessly link in to users’ experience. Users will come across non-disruptive ads containing content they are more likely to want to click on, arguably enhancing their online experience. Although Native Advertising has been around for many years, it has undoubtedly taken off as savvy advertisers, such as Perelman, have harnessed its power. Companies like Toyota have created amusing BuzzFeed articles which boost their interaction with users and provide space to promote the company’s other social networking sites.

We have seen movement to define and give guidance on native advertising across the pond, with the IAB (US) setting up a Native Advertising Task Force and the FTC planning to host a native advertising workshop in December. See here for more information from our sister blog, Adlaw By Request. Here in the UK, as recently as 22 October, AOL UK and the Huffington Post published a white paper proposing guidelines for to ensure that advertisers are able to “go native” whilst keeping within the parameters of the regulatory environment. The white paper is available here. If you want to learn more about Native Advertising or to discuss the white paper, please contact one of the ReACTS team.