AOL and Telegraph slammed for “colonial” native ad approach

Hirsch, the chief executive of John Brown

Hirsch, the chief executive of John Brown

Andrew Hirsch, chief executive of customer publishing firm John Brown, has launched a stinging attack on the concept of native advertising and believes companies including The Telegraph and AOL cannot prove its value.

Hirsch, whose company publishes the Waitrose magazine, made the criticisms during an Advertising Week session featuring AOL, The Telegraph and BuzzFeed and likened native advertising to Native Americans.

He said: “I’m sick of native advertising. The Telegraph and AOL are like Christopher Columbus setting out in very large boats, pretending they know about America and no one asks the indigenous population about what they knew about America.

“Which is why Lori [Cunningham] could not tell us about what [The Telegraph’s native advertising] content was creating in terms of feedback and data. I can tell you we produce content for Waitrose and if you are a reader of the magazine you will spend five times more money in Waitrose than a non-reader.”

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  • WestLondonGas

    Interesting point about proving value. I suspect there are other contributing factors to the “spend five times more money” claim. For example, Waitrose give away Waitrose Kitchen to people who have a myWaitrose card but charge those who do not have one. Someone who has a myWaitrose card is highly likely to be a regular customer and hence already spending more money in the shop. They are not spending five times more money simply because someone has given them a magazine.

    Mr Hirsch will now want to trot out some examples of specific products performing well after they are featured in the magazine but to claim my £100 weekly shop is going to become a £500 weekly shop just because of a free magazine is utter tosh.