AOL’s Armstrong: Native Ads Need ‘Human’ Familiarity

By on 01/09/2014 2:09 PM @robertandrews

LAS VEGAS – Marketing land is abuzz about “native advertising” – the hybridized presentation of marketing in the guise of publisher editorial.

As different publishers and agencies approach the opportunity in different ways, the commonly accepted notions of what constitutes an ad and how you recognize it begin to break down. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wants to put them back together again.

“Where native advertising’s going to go is something we call internally ‘human advertising’,” Armstrong tells Beet.TV.

“Books are generally the same size, magazines are the same size, TV programs typically work the same way. Humans, over time, are okay with very format-driven ways to interact with media.

“Advertising’s the same way. Our view is taking native to platform-level and put it across the internet.”

What Armstrong appears to be suggesting is a need for standardization in the emergent space. That would help consumers recognize something as an ad, and may also make pricing such things easier.

But standardization today runs counter to the creativity being unleashed in nascent native advertising. And, with so many publishers already outputting their own editorial content in different formats, the conditions may not yet be in place for developing agreed-upon norms for the practice.

We interviewed Armstrong at last night’s AOL/Engadget awards program at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where native advertising has been a hot topic. Starcom Mediavest Group announced its own branded content platform.

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