Appsfire criticises Yahoo’s native ads, Yahoo hits back

Mobile ad company Appsfire has criticised Yahoo’s recently announced native ad product for being too deceptive and Yahoo isn’t very happy about it.
In case you hadn’t heard, Yahoo launched its own native ad product a few days ago, while Appsfire has been highly active in the space, releasing a number of native formats over the last couple of months.
On Monday Appsfire founder Ouriel Ohayon posted an article on the company’s official blog, which called-out Yahoo’s unit– shown below – for not being clearly labelled as an advertisement.
Spot the ad?
Here’s an quote from Appsfire’s post.

“The practice of blending ads in the content should not discount the necessity of obvious disclosure. Fail in doing this well and users will soon stop trusting your service or your ads because you tried to deceive them.”

It didn’t take long for someone called “relish” to comment on the article, claiming that Appsfire’s native formats were just as bad as Yahoo’s.

“How is you [sic] example better than the others??,” said the commentator. “Same exact thing! To me, native ads are much better in my opinion. Especially if they get more targeted towards my interest. Yahoo had a native stream ad the other day that recognized I was a Raiders fan and offered me merchandise. I clicked..”

Well it turns out relish was actually an employee in Yahoo’s analytics department called Matt Lillig, who appeared to argue that native ads didn’t need to be clearly marked as advertisements. Lillig said users “are savvy” these days and “will decide if they want to click [an ad] or not.” He added that he “can’t ignore the data” and “the future is bright” for Yahoo’s format.
Appfire’s Ouriel Ohayon responded:

“Matt you can t be serious? an ad does not bring trust in anyway, if the mechanism used to deliver it is deceptive to the user. You seem to be under the impression that because it is integrated in the flow of the experience and the content, that s enough to get the user to accept it and tolerate it. But that’s just wrong because you have not warned him you got paid to display that.
Matt, i hope your company (Yahoo) is not thinking as you do!”

The argument then spilled over to Twitter, where Yahoo’s official YahooAdBuzz account hit back at Appsfire’s original blog post.

Shots fired! You can read the whole exchange here. Appsfire is definitely correct when it says native ads need to be clearly labelled to maintain user trust, but is Yahoo’s new format failing in this respect? Either way, looks like all that native ad competition is starting to get tempers flared.

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