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Native ads are a tricky beast to wrap your head around; they are similar to chameleons, blending into their surroundings so well (it requires a double take these days to spot them). Speaking as a consumer or reader we have learned to cohabitfairly well with modern day advertising formats, but Native has taken camouflage to a whole new level and changed the playing field as we know it.

It is all the range right now in the online world; Native ads manage to seamlessly simulate the look and feel of editorial content, that readers unconsciously lap it up as “real” editorial. The online environment gives this advertising format so many ways in which to flex its influence over the consumer.

But can the same be said for Native moving across to print? We have seen recent examples, where big name publishers have started conducting native experiments and linking a native campaign and simultaneously running the same contentin print. See [shell advertisement by the New York Times], this has shaken up the print landscape, where consumers have become accustomed to ads traditionallytaking an intrusiverole in the publications layout, they are obvious to spot, and your choice to take notice or not.

The Shell ad is what you call a “Paid Post,” or “Sponsored Content” the publisher, in this example The New York Times,is a great example of a publisher moving with the [sorry for the pun] times. They capitilised on gap in the market,whereby publishers are taking control of native ad production that is inline with the level of their editorial content and reporting.  T Brand Studiopopped onto the scene in January 2014,this is where the magic happens, and ‘Native campaigns’ are created specificallyfor their publication, they are well staffed and equipped to push out rich media campaigns, using premium content, by premium brands, for premium $$.

Similar to the sponsored article by Netflix “Orange is the New Black”  T Brand Studio took the technology one step further by serving up layered contextual multimedia, by fine-tuning the technology in which the reader is most likely to consumes the brands content.

It works similar tothat of a road map, whereby the brand takes you through an interactivelayered journey – including a heady mix of short videos, combined with video which is overlaid with graphics andto finish up even throwing in a few clever animated GIFs into the mix, and all of this is cloaked in the Native disguise, that minimises the appearance of the brands logo.

So brands now have a new card to play, the ace up the sleeve known as “Storytelling”,and they use it to position themselves as thought-leaderswithin their respective industries or on a particular subject matter.

By combining Native formats in both the online and print environment, the publisher is trying to add context and make the campaign appear real or legitimate – its way of reassuring the reader that they are helping brands tell a story.

Which brings us to the question – Is this all real? Is this just advertorial brought back into circulation again? – Yes that old chestnut –

So are publishers getting in bed with advertisers? Are they effectively tricking the reader? How do you believe a publisher that gets paid by a brand to shape its content to its commercial agenda? It leaves a bitter taste, especially for one journalist in particular. Andrew Sullivan@The Dish – when asked by Brian Braiker if advertisers had defeated journalism? His response:

“Advertising snuck into the editorial pages in a way that advertising has always wanted to do. It used to be an axiom that the job of journalists was to be resistant to that and sustain the clear distinction between advertising and journalism. One side has effectively surrendered.”

Braiker asked his thoughts on the New York Times?

“They do a better job. But it’s a question of which level of deception are you engaged in. That’s all it is. If they wanted not to deceive, they would have these as ads, not as paid posts.”

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But the best pearl of wisdom, the icing on the cake moment – was at the end of the article, Digiday asked Sullivan his final thoughts on their publication choosing to serve up sponsored content.

We just thought we’d share the image from the article, courtesy of Digiday – Go and read their full article

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