Premium publishers that use native ad networks with an opt-out model — meaning publishers can only remove advertiser content AFTER it has already appeared on their site — are risking enormous brand damage. The Atlantic’s infamous Scientology native ad was on their site for less than 12 hours, but the damage was swift and enduring.
If a native ad network serves advertiser content into the editorial well of a publisher’s site with a similarly disastrous brand mismatch, by the time the publisher realizes the problem and blocks the native ad content, it will be too late. The damage will be done.
Premium publishers should only participate in native ad networks that have an opt-in model, meaning the publisher has full editorial control over the native ad content. With an opt-in model, the publisher can review content from the native ad network BEFORE it appears on their site, and only publish content that fits with their editorial brand.
Why should premium publishers participate in a native ad network at all? For local publishers, it’s an opportunity to tap into national advertising with premium pricing, which values the native context of the publisher’s brand. This is in stark contrast to national display ad networks, which have driven premium publishers to pure commodity status.
Native ad networks also provide what is absolutely essential to big brands… scale. Brands will only shift significant budget to native ads, and pay premium prices, if there is scale. The most successful native ad network will provide scale for brands while maintaining premium value for publishers, because the brand’s content appearing NATIVELY on the publisher’s site has huge value.
That’s why it’s essential for publishers to protect the value of their editorial brand and native context. Publishers can’t trust that the editorial review process of a native ad network is going to adequately protect them. They must review every piece of native ad content before it is published on their site, the same as they do with editorial content.
That raises the question of how an editorial review process for native ads can scale for publishers, who have limited resources. That’s where the platform for a native ad network must provide technology solutions, such as:
- Simple user interface for efficiently reviewing and approving native ad content
- Automated notifications of new content
- Options for batch review and approval, e.g. daily, weekly, etc.
- Option to automate certain native ad content selection based on other premium publishers’ having already published it, i.e. leverage network effects for editorial judgment to drive efficiency
It’s only a matter of time before the first high profile incident of damagingly inappropriate content being served onto a premium publisher’s site by an opt-out native ad network. Premium publishers should learn the lesson of Scientology and avoid being the next cautionary tale by insisting on an opt-in model for native advertising.
Scott Karp is the co-founder & CEO of Publish2, the only native advertising platform that provides publishers with robust editorial control and an opt-in native ad network. Follow @scottkarp on Twitter.