Customer-obsessed marketing

Just Don’t Call It Native Advertising

Ryan Skinner
Senior Analyst
May 10, 2016

In the context of writing a report on the native advertising technology landscape, I was looking at many publishers' native advertising products when it occurred to me:

Nobody uses the same damn name for native ads, no one calls it 'advertising', and almost no one calls it 'native'.

Here's a word cloud of all the names used for native advertising products by 20 leading publishing houses (full list of the publishers below).

Not a single name for this product was repeated publisher to publisher.

Let me repeat that:

Not a single name for this product was repeated publisher to publisher.

Now, I get branding. Ford's not going to name their new car Chevy. But this isn't branding. Chevy and Ford can both agree that the Mustang and the Camaro are, in fact, cars. Ford doesn't call its cars Frisbees, and Chevy doesn't call them PersonTransporters, and think they're competing in wildly different markets.

Further, here's the hall of native ad product naming fame (or shame, if you will):

Top Prize For Most Orwellian-Named Native Ad Product: Mashable's 'BrandSpeak'
(apparently, this is a dialect invented on Madison Avenue, spoken only by a gaggle of editorial primates and consists entirely of CamelCase AdjectiveNames)

Top Prize For Advertising Not-Advertising But-Still-Advertising: Vox's 'Vox Creative'
It sits under the 'Advertising' category of the site, next to another offering called…'Advertising'. I don't even.

Top Prize For 'Let's Admit It, This Could Be Just About Any Old Thing': Economist's 'Content'
("What should we call our in-house native advertising product offering?" "What about 'content'?" "Sweet, let's go for a three-martini lunch.")

It wouldn't be a crime if it weren't so confusing for a buyer, and – frankly – an insult to the marketing profession.

Publishers that were part of this analysis: Atlantic, New York Times, Mashable, BuzzFeed, Forbes, Washington Post, Vox Media, Digiday, Wall Street Journal, Economist, Guardian, Hearst, Time Inc., Refinery29, Telegraph UK, Wired, CNN, Gawker, HGTV/Scripps, Meredith

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