LONDON: Programmatic native advertising has many advantages, but it has also been criticised for blurring the lines between content and ads, says a leading industry figure who recommends five core principles to keep consumers engaged.

Ruth Zohrer, Head of Programmatic Marketing at Mindshare, says programmatic technology now allows advertisers to serve a broader range of ads at scale, but this makes it more important than ever that they apply best practice.

In an article for this month's issue of Admap, she asks: "Is the native advertising experience created with quality content that is: relevant to the publishing partner's publication, from a brand with enough authority on the subject, honestly labelled, and valuable to the person coming into contact with it?"

A native advertising experience is only worth putting in front of people if advertisers can answer yes to these questions, Zohrer states.

Looking at these principles in more detail, she emphasises that every native advertising experience must begin with high-quality content. "Failure to deliver on quality could jeopardise the desired, positive impact of that ad for a brand."

It is also essential that content is relevant to the media platform and its audience, "which means that it is closely connected and appropriate to the matter at hand".

To this end, native advertisers should work closely with their publishing partners to define the subject, tone and general layout of the page surrounding their placement.A kitchenware advertiser, for example, would not want to see one of its native ads placed next to a news article about youth knife crime.

Brand advertisers should also give thought as to whether they have sufficient authority when seeking to influence consumers on a given subject.

"A brand risks losing more than it could gain unless there is a clear purpose and value exchange with potential consumers," Zohrer explains.

She adds that honesty is another core principle that advertisers must follow. "Tactics that result in camouflaging advertisements to make people think it is a publisher's own content are simply unacceptable," she says.

Finally, ads must add value. Zohrer says: "Whether a native ad aims to inform, entertain, provide utility or a combination of these to its audience, there has to be a clear value exchange for it to succeed in building the desired relationship between the brand and that person.

"This is true of any type of advertising, but even more so for native formats because of the place they occupy in the media platform space – generally closely intermingled with the content itself."

Data sourced from Admap