As the lines between native advertising and editorial content continue to blur, it appears that more magazine publishers are involving their editorial teams in native ad production.
An eMarketer article citing research from the Native Advertising Institute and FIPP, a network for media associations and companies that surveyed 140 C-level magazine executives in 39 countries during April and May of this year. The research cited in the article found that more than two-thirds of magazine executives (68%) globally said their editorial team produces native ads. In fact, according to the research, only 24% of magazine executives rely on a dedicated native ad team to help them produce native ad campaigns. Meanwhile, 31% use their own content studios, 12% use an external agency partner, 6% use an advertiser’s agencies, and 11% said “other.”
The research doesn’t appear to have asked about newspapers’ native efforts.
What happened to the proverbial Chinese wall, or the separation of church and state between editorial and advertising? That “wall” has been crumbling for some time now. Even when publishers like The New York Times Co., BuzzFeed, Condé Nast, and Time Inc. rely on content studios that are rapidly morphing into in-house agencies, they’re still collaborating with their colleagues on the editorial “side” of the house. And these are often fruitful collaborations. The editorial side is taking some ideas from the native content side, and perhaps, vice versa.
It’s not that magazine executives aren’t concerned at all about the lack of division between their editorial and advertising side. Nearly half of respondents in the research said the biggest threat to native advertising was the lack of separation of the editorial and the commercial side. In addition, 29% of magazine executives said that poor labeling was also a concern.
The proper labeling of editorial content vs. what is not editorial content is a growing area of concern. In December 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued recommendations on how to clearly disclose the presence of native ads. According to data from MediaRadar, the most commonly used term among ads tracked by the company was “sponsor” or “sponsored,” with 54% representation. Tied at 12% each were “promoted” and no labeling at all, with other word choices making up the remainder.
It’s almost a year since the FTC issued its recommendations or guidelines. Native Insider tried for a couple of months to solicit publishers’ views on the guidelines to no avail—the publishers NI asked declined to comment.
As a year approaches, NI wonders whether any publishers will come forward to comment. Surely they’ve had enough time to think about the guidelines and to strategize.