Native Advertising: Tread Carefully and Ethically [VIDEO]

When it comes to native advertising, content marketers don’t muck around. This hot, new concept is a double-edged sword – it’s as empowering as it is dangerous.

Don’t be afraid to put your brand out there – but tread intelligently.

The minute your brand becomes a publisher or content producer, you’re in the spotlight. Your readers look to you as an expert, mentor, and leader.

“When brands team up with established publishers like Forbes, The Atlantic, and Gawkwer, which are among several media companies to have created BuzzFeed-like sponsored content programs, they can inherit audience trust,” Contently’s Shane Snow wrote for AdAge.

Your audience trusts you, so don’t blow it – don’t beat readers over the head with a sales pitch, and be careful what you advertise. Be forward-looking, and do your due diligence.

Native Ads Transcend the Test of Time

Just take a lesson from this native advertising flashback from 50 years ago. The Flintstones were once 1960s brand advocates. For what, you may ask? Cigarettes.

To the show’s credit, the Flintstones marketing team probably didn’t know the health implications of smoking. But something to keep in mind is how powerful this imagery is. It’s emotionally compelling and instantly persuasive, especially coming from two revered brand icons. Advertisers can’t escape their authority, power, and influence.

History Repeated

In 1970, Congress banned cigarette advertisements on television and the radio, AdAge points out in an article looking at the various ad campaigns the characters have been used in. Sixteen years later, the Flinstones did a public service announcement for the American Cancer Society, and nearly two decades later, Wilma’s doing not-so-native commercials for the controversial Brazilian Blowout hair style.

Keep in mind that it’s tough to predict how new technologies, trends, and fads will play out – dangers are frequently unknown until extensive research becomes available.

That’s why brands should put their journalist hats on. Empower consumers to make decisions instead of selling aggressively to them. That’s the beauty of native ads.

Branded content is a power tool, so don’t abuse it. Build trust by thinking beyond the sale. Empower consumers to make healthy, informed decisions on their own. That’s your role as a business leader.

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