The FTC recently sent a letter to Google, Yahoo!, Bing about native advertising and how they must require their users to show what is paid and what is not, in terms of content.

This changes the stage a bit for native advertising. In what started out as a paid play that looked just like the content shared on the site, it now must be disclosed it is actually different than everything else because it was paid for or sponsored.

Not unlike adding “advertorial” or “paid advertising” across the top of content in magazines, this new rule follows the FTC disclosure guidelines they’ve been aggressively promoting for years.

As PR professionals, we lean toward the editorial side, but because native advertising wants to look and feel and sound like valuable content, it is quickly becoming our jobs to figure out how this will play out for our organizations or our client’s organizations.

But native advertising is not a trend started by the PR industry; it was started by our advertising colleagues, but it also serves the needs of media outlets who are on a one-way street. Because of that, communications professionals need to experiment to help journalists make this work. It becomes about how we create content that serves our audience, is not an intrusion, is fun, informative, and increases value of earned media.

It is, in fact, not unlike what the ad agencies are doing with longer form videos that serve as shareable commercials.

Also during this episode, learn about the mistake Martin Waxman made during last week’s podcast and what Richard Edelman shared at IABC about the future of PR.


Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter. Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer. Inside PR is produced by Kristine Simpson and Ashlea LeCompte.


  1. Native advertising/advertorial/sponsored content or whatever you wish to call it will live and die based on the strength of the content (relevance, context). I’ve talked to Buzzfeed recently and if you want to pay them $50K, you can work with them to create sponsored content that would be both relevant to their audience and your brand.

    Mashable is getting into the game as well as are many others.

    Have a look at how Sharethrough does this in the mobile space: http://native-generator.sharethrough.com/

    And while these initiatives may blur the lines between advertising and editorial, the reality is that content consumers just want to see really good stuff. If that comes from a brand who has paid to get a higher level of exposure, then so be it. Disclosure statements are important, but I would think the digital publishing industry will resist having to radically alter their layout/fonts/colours to distinguish what was paid for and what is editorial

  2. Thanks Dave. Agree that quality of content is of prime importance. Nothing like dull to get people to tune out. The ad and PR industries should should know that, but sometimes I wonder if they do.

    Maybe I’m a bit too naive, but I like disclosure – because that gives me a baseline to establish where the perspective is coming from. The same way that I know the editorial slant for the Sun or the Post or BuzzFeed, for that matter. I often read paid posts, and keep reading them, as long as they catch my attention and keep me interested, entertained, give me something fresh.

    Great running into you, by the way.

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