An Open Letter To Bob Garfield's Open Letter To My Open Letter To John Oliver

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the offer to send me your kidney, however I don’t think it will be necessary as I have two that function quite nicely and also, there is no need for a wager. 

I can clearly see that your major position against native advertising is not that it is advertising, but that it is designed to trick audiences into thinking it is not. I have no disagreement with you on that point. Any advertisement (native or otherwise) that is designed to deceive and trick audiences is not acceptable. This is bad business, unethical and doesn’t work.

If an ad tricks someone to click through to a piece of content that has nothing to do with their expectations, they will bounce out because it is irrelevant to them.

The whole digital advertising industry has changed a lot. Most formats tend to more integration than intrusion. And the point is not in the outer look, but in the inner essence of the ads, the reason for inventing them: to find out useful information, what was on sale, etc. So if content is king, then relevancy is now the queen.  



As Now Ads CEO Kirk Caraway so aptly said, "You have to give readers advertising information they would want to consume and act upon, or else you're not providing any real value."

You were quick to offer me a kidney over the fact that The New York Times will not exceed industry average click-through rates, because they are scrupulous about ad disclosure. Don’t you realize that The New York Timesis the industry? Or Buzzfeed, which just received millions in funding and is spearheading mainstream acceptance of native ads?

It's not only them, according to IAB, Google’s paid search is also a type of native ads, as well as the other contextual search ads. Facebook sponsored posts, Twitter promoted tweets, Yahoo! stream ads, etc. Are you sure you have enough kidneys for everybody?

Advertisers want actual people to click on their ads and be genuinely interested in what they find. Publishers want relevant ads to sustain their content, but that don’t distract or deter their readers. Readers want content that is relevant to them. There is no deception here—it is a fully disclosed integration into Web sites, both in design and topic, which directly addresses the wants and needs of all parties involved.

We cannot go without advertising, so why not make it relevant and enjoyable for visitors?  Why not integrate it into publishers’ sites so that they know the ads are not distracting, deterrent, or irrelevant? Why not create and sponsor content people actually want?

Native advertising is a real opportunity for the media industry and now that we all agree it should be implemented ethically, let’s stop focusing on things like logos and font sizes and focus instead on finding solutions to make it meet the audience needs better.

As a matter of fact, MGID is now working on some projects with consumer preferences in focus that when launched, I hope will change your opinion on native advertising. My solution is to focus on the quality of content and audience relevance. I'm sure that's what your goal is as well.


3 comments about "An Open Letter To Bob Garfield's Open Letter To My Open Letter To John Oliver".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, August 15, 2014 at 9:44 a.m.

    Nice try, Sergey, but what part of CTRs of less than .08%, and even more forgiving viewability standards of a second or two leads you to believe that ads, native or otherwise, have any relevance to anybody? If we ask the right question first -- Do you want any ads? -- the obvious answer renders the notion of relevance virtually irrelevant.

  2. Ruth Barrett from, August 17, 2014 at 2:46 p.m.

    I prefer member, subscriber relationships on the Web, rather than advertising, native or otherwise, and I appreciate the good cause message now and then as part of my membership. The soft, unobtrusive ads that have found a place on PBS also work for me on the Web especially when it supports high quality programming. I think things are moving more my way, or at least I hope so. It's more about relationships, rather than transactions and relevancy, well, what has Hulu found in their experimentation with asking if the ad is relevant or not?

  3. Michael Haupt from Jottr Ltd, January 21, 2015 at 1:12 p.m.

    A hotly contested topic, to be sure.

    I can't help wondering whether the original soap operas (so called because they were sponsored by soap companies) would have been called native advertising.

    Advertising is here to stay, whether we like it or not - it's what keeps the wheels of industry turning. The form will change over time, and native advertising is simply another form.

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