With the display ad market continuing its long slog to irrelevancy lots of publishers are approaching brands with a new proposition: “native advertising.” Write your own content, they say, and we’ll feature it alongside ours like the advertorials of old. On the surface this appears a wise proposition, your message will get equal weight to theirs. Gone are the days of being relegated to a sidebar in a 300 x 250 square.

However, the would-be savior of the online publishing market has just as many problems as its predecessor. It’s the product of the same thinking that got the content business in such a pickle in the first place. The “native ad” or advertorial is yet another relic from the print area hopefully carried over into the online world. There are two huge problems holding back the potential success of native ads:

The homepage is fading

Thanks to social media, most readers arrive directly on a site’s article pages. Direct traffic, or traffic that starts on a publisher’s homepage, happens less frequently. As a result, the benefits of being “alongside” the publisher’s content are lessened. In a magazine I would have to flip right past your advertorial on my way to finding an article I wanted to read. Online, I can visit the article I’m looking for directly and leave before ever seeing another piece of content.

Publishers have an authenticity problem

Any successful publisher occupies and owns a niche, where they painstakingly build a community of like-minded readers. Really smart publishers then take those readers and offer them something for money: be it events, merchandise, or information products. This transaction depends entirely on trust. The readers trust that the brand’s offerings will improve their lives in some way.

As a brand running a “native ad” you jeopardize the publication’s credibility with its readers. Your content is an outlier, typically devoid of the same rigorous editorial standards, typically crafted more to promote than to aid the reader. While running your content on the publisher’s site may provide you and the publisher with some short term gains, the slow erosion of the publisher’s brand will only make future campaigns less relevant and the site’s readers will know that, when they see content about your brand, it was paid for and is inauthentic.

There are two solutions here:

Create more integrated (and smarter) partnerships with the publisher

Just writing some content and posting it on the publisher’s site is leaving lots of value on the table. Instead, work hand-in-hand with a handful publishers that you respect to create long-term partnerships that are a win-win for the readers, your brand, and the publication.

For example, at a recent event I helped organize we worked closely with a sponsor to create an “Office Hours” booth. There, attendees could get one-on-one mentoring from top creative coaches to help them solve a problem they were facing. Everybody won: we delivered content that fit right into our mission of helping our audience, our readers got access to top-tier coaches, and the sponsor was able to promote its platform to its core audience.

Go your own way.

Relying on publishers to get your message out is easy in the short term, but the gains can disappear after the campaign is over. To create lasting value, building your own community of readers is the best for long term strategy. However, there are a few caveats: a clothing company can more easily create compelling and useful content then, say, a furniture store. Some businesses are better suited for content marketing.

The native advertising trend is appealing now, but soon readers will become just as tired of it as they have of banner ads. Instead of focusing on interrupting readers as they seek out information, be the thing they seek: helpful, useful content that makes their lives better. In the short term it will be exceedingly difficult. In the long term, you can build your media machine.