Marketing Moment 64: Native advertising begins (121 years ago)


Marketing Moment 64: Native advertising begins (121 years ago)

To celebrate the Ad Club of New York’s 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

Today, I take the wheel for a spin around native advertising’s start.

Go to any advertising or marketing conference and the term “native advertising” pops up frequently. In deserved deference to those who have taken the practice and made it their own, it is certainly a harbinger of today’s and future advertising. BuzzFeed and others may have cornered the market on mind share of native, but it has been done (and done well) way before we were sharing cat gifs and what (fill in the blank) Kardashian is up to these days.

The term itself was coined, according to Sharethrough (who know a little something about the native ad game), in 2011 by Fred Wilson at the OMMA global conference. Tom Channick of Sharethrough also noted that, “At that time, platforms like Facebook (Sponsored Stories), Twitter (Promoted Tweets), and Google (AdWords) had already proven that monetizing their properties with visually-integrated, non-interruptive brand content could drive significant revenue.”

Though we look at native advertising through a modern lens, the first real “native advertising” came from John Deere, who began publication of The Furrow, an agricultural magazine that included articles and farming tops, targeted, according to Jerrid Grimm in Pressboard, to 17 different regions. Of course, Deere’s products played a prominent role, with ads interspersed among the editorial.

At its peak in 1912, it had a circulation of 4m. The publication continues to this day, with a digital version but, as Kate Gardiner in Contently’s “The Content Strategist” points out, the print magazine reached around 570,000 in the US and Canada and 2m globally through the Deere retail network.

“I’ve never worked for a brand magazine like this that people loved so much,” said current publications manager David Jones, the publication’s 14th leader told Gardiner. “Telling stories that folks enjoy reading—and that they can use in their own operations—has been the recipe since the beginning.”

The Furrow

To submit your own favorite marketing moment, email and include ‘Marketing Moments’ in the subject line or tweet @TheDrum using the hashtag #marketingmoments. 

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