Three years into its “Lean Forward” re-branding campaign, MSNBC has given new meaning to the catchphrase, leaning forward into running branded content promoting hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).
Looking to beef up its web presence, MSNBC has brought “Lean Forward” online with a new and improved website, calling it a “Platform for the Lean Forward, progressive community.” A key part of funding that platform: running “native advertisements” for America's Natural Gas Alliance and General Electric.
“General Electric and America’s Natural Gas Alliance are the site’s launch partners,” explained an October 30 MediaPost article.
“GE, the first native ad partner for msnbc.com, will collaborate with MSNBC to deliver a content series that highlights how the 'Industrial Internet' and 'Brilliant Machines Innovation' are reshaping our world. America’s Natural Gas Alliance will be featured in sponsored polls in the 'Speak Out' section of the site centered on natural gas facts.”
GE, former owner of NBC, of which MSNBC is one of its many tentacles, is fully invested in the fossil fuel industry, with assets in fracking, coal, offshore drilling, tar sands, and more. ANGA is the shale gas industry's lobbying tour de force, both at the federal and state level.
Native advertising - also referred to as “branded content” or “native content” - is quickly replacing banner ads and pop-up ads as the go-to channel of reaching consumers for advertising executives.
“Native content is a digital advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience, matching both the form and function of the environment in which it is placed,” explained a recent MarketingWeek article.
If banner ads and pop-up ads are “overt ads,” then native ads are best described as “covert ads,” akin to the controversial “video news releases” for TV news.