BuzzFeed gear from a conference in July 2013 in San Diego, California. Buzzfeed is one of the pioneers of native advertising.
BuzzFeed gear from a conference in July 2013 in San Diego, California. Buzzfeed is one of the pioneers of native advertising. - 
Listen To The Story

Native ads are ads that don’t look like ads. They blend in with the main content of the site, like a promoted Tweet from Samsung about its new phone, or an article about a miracle weight loss drug on a news site.

>This week, on December 4, the Federal Trade Commission is hosting a kind of town-hall meeting about native advertising -- which is starting to look like the goose that lays golden eggs to online advertisers and websites.

Advertisers love them because they work, users interact with them more than they ever did with banner ads; sites love them, because they pay; site owners can charge more for these ads than they ever did for banners.

"I believe, in 6 to 12 months, there will be no other advertising than native advertising in social media, because it’s just becoming so effective," says Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers, a social media analytics platform.

Companies are currently spending $2.5 billion a year on these ads and that's expected to double in the next few years. That's gotten the attention of the FTC.

The fear is that users are going to get hoodwinked," says Jed Williams, vice president and senior analyst at BIA/Kelsey, a consulting and research group that focuses on local and digital media. "They’re going to think a piece of content is something that it’s actually not."

Williams says it should be really clear whether an article about, say, the health benefits of grilling was written by a journalist or brought to you by Weber.

Advertisers are worried too much regulation could simply cook their goose.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Stacey Vanek Smith at @svaneksmith