If you search the web for an example of “native advertising,” surprise! You will not find National Geographic photos of quaint retailers in Belize or Brooklyn painting handmade signs, or of rustics at farmers markets lettering labels for the vegetables they vend.
No, you’ll find something like this, perhaps, in the middle of Lingua Franca:
PARSE ME, LA!
By a Lingua Franca Blogger
I’ve just spent the most enjoyable moments of my recent life demolishing the pretensions of my enemies, would-be grammatical pundits who look down at my own brilliant expositions of matters grammatical. What’s more, like the tailor who swatted seven at one blow, I dispatched dozens of usageasters with one command to my devastating Parse Me, La! software.
Parse Me, La! is so powerful that it can take any statement and find grammatical, or at least stylistic, fault with it. Write “It is I” or “It is me,” “It’s I” or “It’s me,” and my pal Parse! will find fault with it.
And there’s no danger it will turn on me. Switch Parse Me, La! from Destroy to Protect mode, and it will come up with an explanation to whitewash even the most seemingly ungrammatical of expressions. Victory is yours in milliseconds.
Amazingly, Parse Me, La! is now available for a limited time at the absurdly low price of $39.99, complete with a mobile app for instant demolition at a party or in the classroom. …
OK, enough of that example. “Native advertising,” we have recently come to learn, means advertising designed to look like a publication’s usual editorial content, located in the midst of that content like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, usually with a discreet notice in fine print labeling it as advertising.
In print publications, at least, this really isn’t anything new. What’s new in the past few years is this name for what used to be called “sponsored content.” Why “native”?
Dictionaries and etymologists don’t seem to have caught up with the phrase yet, so your guess is as good as mine. My guess is that it reflects the advertiser’s viewpoint, the goal of getting the sponsored content to look as native as possible.
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