Native advertising may be a modern take on an old format, but technology and the internet are propelling it to heights never seen before. So is this progress sustainable?
According to a survey into UK agency and industry attitudes for the ad platform Adyoulike, native advertising will account for nearly 10 per cent of total digital display spend in 2014, rising to 14.7 per cent by 2015.
Furthermore, 83 per cent of agencies now offer native advertising as part of their digital offering, and the remainder plan to do so in the near future.
But there is room for caution. Earlier this year, a study by the real-time analytics company Chartbeat found less than a quarter (24 per cent) of readers scroll down through native ad content, while nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) scroll down through editorial content.
Newspapers and magazines have been quick to jump on the bandwagon by rebranding established teams and creating new formats online. Broadcasters, too, are enjoying renewed interest in advertiser-funded programming.
And who can blame them? In 2013, US advertisers spent $2.4 billion on native ads – an increase of 77 per cent on 2012. The Bauer Media head of creative and brand solutions, Clare Chamberlain, says native advertising is a "fundamental element" of its 2015 plans, but adds it is just one option among the creative executions available.
But what of the reader in all this? If you caught John Oliver’s recent rant on HBO, you will know how easily he lambasted the entire concept for destroying the "heart" of publishing and the "integrity of news".
However, a study by the PR company Edelman and the Internet Advertising Bureau found that consumers of business and entertainment news are highly receptive, while this is less so the case for readers of general news. And many believe cracking native in mobile, the fastest-emerging media channel, will be essential to its commercial future.
So is it about the right content in the right place at the right time, and do people even have time for every brand to tell them a story? Will native advertising continue to grow at the current rate?
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