Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

See? Native Ads Don’t Have to Be Awful.

Adland loves “native ads,” the new/old concept where an ad pretends to be “content.”

I’m not sold. Not because of ethical issues, but because most native ads are lousy.

The one big exception: Native ads formatted as interesting videos. Which is really just another way of describing “commercials you would like to watch.”

Here are a couple examples that work, from IAC’s CollegeHumor, on behalf of Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater brand:

No surprise that CollegeHumor is able to make entertaining (or at least interesting, with perhaps a tinge of uneasy-making) videos, since that’s what they do all the time. And they’ve been integrating sponsors into their stuff for a long time, too.

In this case, CollegeHumor founder Ricky Van Veen says, the process was simple: “We pitched Vitamin Water ideas, they picked a few, and we produced/distributed.”

The GPS prank clip, released a week ago, has already done around three million views, Van Veen says. The subway prank just went up a few days ago, but Van Veen says it is likely to do better: The clip isn’t on YouTube yet, but it has already generated three times more Facebook shares than the car clip.

One difference between this and other native ad campaigns: Van Veen says all of the views the videos have generated so far are organic — CollegeHumor hasn’t paid for any of the distribution.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work