IAB in the News

Chat with Hilary Souter, Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Authority, on the topic of Native Advertising in NZ

Fri, 30 Oct 2015

Over the next couple of months, the IAB NZ’s Standards & Guidelines Council is out in the marketplace conducting a series of short interviews with key industry folk.

The concept is to ask the same four questions to a range of industry professionals working across agency, publisher, creative, and client facing roles.

We’re hoping to further the discussion and education around this topic.

It may identify a gap in thinking, perception and perhaps even process - and potentially help identify areas where the industry needs to work better together to help this category evolve here in NZ.

We caught up with Hilary Souter, Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Authority. Here is what Hilary had to say.

1. Is Native different to what you've seen in the past?

The challenge around Native Advertising is that line between what’s advertising and what’s content. I think people had a certain understanding of where those boundaries were - and Native Advertising has potentially shifted those boundaries, so people have to recalibrate in terms of what they’re looking at.

That’s not necessarily a problem for people when they’re getting information, they’re interested, and it’s being delivered in a certain way. If they understand that money has changed hands to deliver that content, then that’s fine – but I think the challenge is around alerting people to where those lines now are. That might be through a standardised template environment, it might be through some online information about what to look for when you’re looking at native advertising, there might be some standardised labelling - there could be a raft of different things that are signals to the consumer as to where that line now is.

2. How is it a changing process?

From the ASA’s point of view, I don’t expect it to change process – we’re very clear that it is advertising, and if we received a complaint that the content is misleading or offensive, then that would be handled in the same way.

What would be interesting and may impact going forward is if we got a complaint that the content wasn’t clearly identified as advertising. The complaints board would look at the complaint under our identification rule, and they may agree with the consumer, which would be an interesting result for the industry to consider.


3. How is this changing the overall landscape?

I believe the intention is to enhance the user experience – delivering relevant content, in the right context, at the right time to consumers which can be genuinely helpful. However there is a line. The concept is not new, print and broadcast publishers are familiar with the need to articulate the difference between editorial content and advertorial content, and have been doing this for decades.

It’s our experience is that consumers don’t want to be tricked or surprised - they take a lot of things pretty literally and at face value. I think that if people are delivered content that they don’t realise is advertising, and they may have considered or thought about it differently if they knew it was, then that might be a reason for complaint. More importantly for publishers and advertisers, that may also undermine the value of the content for that consumer.

At the heart of it all, the industry needs to consider the user/consumer. What we’re trying to do is ensure there is trust in advertising, the standards help support that, and people can believe what they read or see. There is an allowance for hyperbole and all that stuff – but in general terms. I think care has to be taken to ensure there is transparency around this shift to a different form of advertising.

It is great to see the IAB take a leadership role in this for the industry.


4. What is the feedback from clients?

Industry and consumers alike are keen to have some parameters around this to help them understand where it sits in the market - what it means, what it looks like, who’s doing it, what to expect – that kind of thing.

I think there is a great level of interest in the development of Native Advertising