The title of a recent post by Contently asked the question, “Can publishers convince consumers to trust native advertising?” Unfortunately, I think Contently is putting the onus on the wrong party.
Publishers like The Globe and Mail or New York Times shouldn’t have the sole responsibility for trying to convince their readers to trust native advertising – they shouldn’t even have the majority ownership of that problem. It should be the primary responsibility of the companies who have developed the sponsored content. It’s their job to create a brand that is so trusted by the market that readers will still trust that the sponsored content has their best interests in mind, because that’s the real problem. When a reader sees that content is “sponsored”, they immediately think someone’s trying to sell them something – I know I do. Without that trust in the brands themselves - or in other words without trusting that the brands have the readers’ best interests at heart - it will be difficult for any publisher to convince a reader that native advertising isn’t there to sell them something.