This week, while flipping through the latest issue of Marie Claire, a page that caught my eye—it was chock-full of statistics and quick hits of advice, organized well and filled with fun graphics. As I read through the piece, I finally settled on the small but bold logo at the bottom of the page. I was reading an advertisement, seamlessly folded into the pages of Marie Claire, practically posing as an article.
Native advertising, which mimics content and is less intrusive to readers (although a proper definition is debated), has emerged as a buzzword in the ad world. As publications crunch numbers to support their news content, advertising has become an essential source of revenue—fellow Prosekian Julia discussed this topic in September. Yet creating compelling ads for a generation of readers who want their news quicker than ever has become a challenge. Native advertising offers a unique alternative to traditional banner ads, and has already proven more effective in attracting eyeballs.
Recently, native advertising came to the forefront of conversation with Yahoo!’s acquisition of Tumblr, a pioneer in this strategy. Tumblr Radar positions brands’ posts in a reserved section on every user’s dashboard, and users can pay to promote their own blogs. Although Tumblr wasn’t able to fully monetize native ads, a company like Yahoo! may give this strategy the kick it needs to drive revenue. Certainly, the 17.5 billion page views that Tumblr generates daily may become a hotbed for ads, but Tumblr also offers Yahoo! a platform where readers are actively seeking compelling content, sponsored or not.
So, as blogs like Tumblr and Buzzfeed (also a major player in the native ad space) begin to blur the lines of editorial and advertising, what does this mean for traditional, trusted media outlets?