Is native advertising doomed?

This video made me laugh. It’s funny, really funny and makes me glad I have an HBO subscription so I can watch more John Oliver.

John, in a completely satirical way, lambastes the entire native advertising movement. He points out that advertising and editorial are “church and state” and should never be mixed together. Is he right? Watch the video and keep reading below.

Since HBO uses a “100% subscription” model it’s easy to take a stance against native advertising, banner ads, video ads, really any sort of advertising… but I think he and HBO are completely wrong. Actually what I think might not really matter at all. Let’s consider a couple of facts debunking HBO’s “lack of native ads”:

  • HBO does advertise other shows (their own) and sports/boxing pay per view in front of their programming. Since these ads are baked in to your viewing experience you could consider it a form of native advertising.
  • Apple Inc’s computers and Chrysler’s Jeep vehicles are frequently seen in HBO’s popular shows and films. Product placement is considered native advertising (ads mixed into the content).
Are you obvious enough?
Are you obvious enough?

Consider John’s statement that 50% of a publications readership doesn’t realize they are reading a sponsored ad. I take that as 50% of publishers know how to be transparent and produce good sponsored ads that their readers notice… and that 50% of publishers suck at being transparent and try to hide their ads as editorial content.

What’s does this all boil down to?


Readers trust you. How you handle your readers is the only thing that matters. If you are careful to be obvious with your sponsored/native ads so there is no doubt that something is an ad then you will be one of the 50% of publishers that is getting it right.

And since native ads do produce good revenue income, you won’t want to break that trust and send readers running.

What do you think about mixing advertisers into your articles?

P.S. If you want to try out our free Sponsored Article plugin you can find it here.

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