The History of Native Advertising

The History of Native Advertising

By Andrew Hudson

The last blog in our native advertising series defined just what the term ‘native advertising’ means. What we didn’t do was outline the history of the practice, before it became a staple of social platforms.

Native-Ads-CadillacNative ads are nothing new. This 1914 “advertorial piece” from Cadillac has all the characteristics of a native ad. The format of the story doesn’t scream ADVERT, you can bet Cadillac paid The Sunday Evening Post to feature it and its primary intention isn’t to sell a Cadillac. Instead, it’s using a trusted publication to send a brand message.

The emergence of this form of sponsorship meant ads adopted a chameleon-like ability to match the style of the publications they appeared in. Brands realised they could piggyback existing mediums to boost their exposure.

Cue the birth of sponsored radio programmes, which led to the arrival of television dramas backed by the likes of P&G – soap operas.

Brands started making themselves at home onscreen, outside the model of sponsorship or advertisements. They stopped trying to divert our attention and became part of the fabric of life we saw on our screens. Did anyone else leave 2015’s Jurassic World with the mysterious urge to test drive a Mercedes on the way to Starbucks?

Product placement is such an ingrained form of native advertising that UK broadcasters have failed – despite efforts – to monetise it.

Online provides a fresh opportunity not to make the same oversight. Clicks are measurable, audiences easier to define and ads faster than ever to make. But the disruptive nature of ads jars with the expectations of immediacy that modern audiences crave.

What to do? The answer lies with Cadillac. Where Cadillac conformed to media consumption habits of the time, platforms like Buzzfeed or Forbes invite today’s brands to do the same.

And now, like those publishers’ pages, your social feeds are prime real estate where the measure of success isn’t how well you stand out, but how naturally you blend in. Welcome to native ads on social.

This post was written by Andrew Hudson

Andrew is myclever™ Agency's copywriter. Like all great writers, he's sensitive, deeply introverted and has a diehard penchant for knitwear.