I don’t know that LeAnne Brinkies is familiar with Hamlet, let alone Queen Gertrude. As the Bard might say, ’tis a pity. Had she been so familiar, she might have gone about “Native advertising – the editorial vs advertorial debate” in a different way. And she almost certainly wouldn’t have written this:

The content promoted within native placements – whether they are in-feed, widgets or embedded pieces of content, look and feel like they are part of the site. They cover topics of interest that are relevant to both the brand and the audience; and they are stories that the brand has the authority to tell or be associated with. They also provide utility and added value to the user.

To those not familiar with the term, and according to Wikipedia’s definition, “Native advertising is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears.” Why? If a brand has the authority to tell its story, why does it need to match form and function (translation: disguise or camouflage itself) by playing chameleon to its chosen media? Why can’t it stand on its own? Has anyone asked the user if native advertising provides utility and added value? (Think about the condescending nature of the user. Why not the used?)

And if the practice of native advertising is as above-board as Ms. Brinkies would have us believe, why would Mashable perceive the need to publish a piece called, “Try to spot the native ad on the cover of the newest issue of Forbes“? It’s the marketing equivalent of Where’s Waldo? And it’s arguably as insulting as it is underhanded and self-defeating.

Why is native advertising insulting? Because it presumes consumers will be too stupid to see a potentially unwanted sales pitch coming. Why is native advertising self-defeating? Because it will continue the trend that’s already begotten banner blindness, in which we no longer see anything our increasingly conditioned powers of perception perceive as advertising. Native advertising is just another aspect of the web’s wearing out its welcome and extending the reflexively deliberate ignorance it’s fostered to other media.

One of the guiding principles of my life is this: Never believe anything until it’s officially denied. If Ms. Brinkies’ official denial had to be that contrived, perhaps she should have thought twice.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Image by Władysław Czachórski [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.