The term mainstream media, then, if it wants to compete in a world where ads are going increasingly native, is going to have to become the mainly streams media. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) Look at the best native ads out there, from 30-second TV narratives to long-copy print ads: they are native to the form, yes, but they also live within linearly-consumed streams. We sit back and watch the TV, watching ads along the way; we leaf through the newspaper from front to back, grazing as we go, and reading whatever catches our eye.

If native is really going to take off online, it’s going to do so by appearing in the streams we want to immerse ourselves into anyway, whether they’re the Facebook News Feed or the magazine-style format of Flipboard. It might even work for individual publishers, if they can build attractive enough streams of their own. But I’m not holding my breath.


Felix Salmon is an Audit contributor. He's also the finance blogger for Reuters; this post can also be found at