Is Native Advertising Ethical?


As a student of marketing, I am intrigued with the whole concept of product development, to pricing that product, to promoting that product in unique ways, and to placing it where there is a high traffic, all of which encompasses an exhaustive strategy. Consumers tend to question the ethics of marketers as they sometime try to sell you a product that you clearly do not want or need, but they pressure you into thinking it is a necessity. These are the actions in marketing that do not make me proud to support it. However, there is one specific strategy known as native advertising that is particularly disturbing to me. The concept of native advertising involves cropping a specific advertisement to look like it is a part of the content you are searching for, when in fact it is an advertisement posing as content. This description may not be clear so an example should demonstrate the mischievous practice. Recently, I was reading an article in the magazine Scientific American which discussed Hepatitis B. The articles length was approximately 5 pages long. In the middle of the article there were 2 pages back to back that looked like an article within an article, usually for the purpose of explaining something more in depth or showing a diagram to help illustrate the articles content. In fact, it was information about a recent drug trial regarding Hepatitis B that was written by “doctors.” The article praised the drug behind the studies and at the very bottom, in fine print letters, it said the following is an advertisement paid for by the company who sponsored the research. Maybe the company is contributing positively to society, maybe the drug is a miracle drug, but the placement of the advertisement in that spot made it look like they were trying to deceive the reader into believing the article was written by a journalist from the magazine. You see native advertising all over the place, but the problem is, the goal of native advertisement is to not be detected as an advertisement. This creates a conflict of interest and to be honest, is clearly an unethical practice. However, it is a very effective marketing tool and will continue to be used because of this. Native Advertising Strategies


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