Kelly Scott Madison

Tracking the resurgence of native TV advertising



Some television networks have crowned native as the next greatest opportunity, but is it really anything new?

In a time when ads are often ignored or skipped, television media in particular is struggling to find ways to overcome these changes. Ad clutter, DVRs, commercial-skipping devices, online video and over-the-top services like Netflix have all added to an increasingly complex list of reasons why TV networks are continuing to explore new ways to adapt. Though in the midst of this mayhem, how do these providers go beyond adaptation in order to help brands truly stand out to viewers? Instead of reinventing the wheel, many have just identified another way to utilize the old trick we now know as native advertising.

Native advertising comes in many forms, but at its most basic is simply an advertisement organically incorporated into the medium in which it appears. The less intrusive it is to the viewer's experience, the more successful it may be, allowing brands to connect with viewers on a more personal level. Not only can advertisers cut through clutter by eliminating the number of commercials in a program, they can also provide a better viewing experience for consumers in addition to more custom branding content.

However, to avoid the risk of reusing yet another buzzword without providing proper context, it is essential to remember that TV is no stranger to this type of advertising. Dating back to the early days of talk show hosts mentioning products on-air or utilizing clever product placement, what we now call native ads have been an ever-present staple in the television space. Even in more recent times, this technique has flourished. Who could forget the iconic “Oprah Winfrey Show” episode from 2004 where she partnered with Pontiac and gave everyone in the audience a free car? And daily programs like “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America” regularly dedicate several of their segments to showcasing themed products.

Still, with more brands facing increasing pressure to find ways to make their ads unavoidable, content providers needed to take a fresh look at this well-tested strategy. This is where the resurgence of native advertising comes into play, with outlets like Business Insider reporting that networks are preparing to woo advertisers by offering plot storylines written around products, calling it in-program advertising.

The approaching upfront season will certainly provide these channels with the platform they need to entice brands and advertisers with something new. Now the only question is, will marketers bite? 

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