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Another Native Ad You Might Actually Want to See

Spoiler! It's a music video, courtesy of Aloe Blacc, Lincoln and the Los Angeles Times.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Last year Lincoln paid for a cool music video, featuring Beck covering a David Bowie song, and then spent a bunch more promoting the clip on TV, magazines and the Web.

This year the company is doing the same thing, except the video stars Aloe Blacc,* and it comes in a cool choose-your-own-adventure/camera-angle package.** And in addition to asking people to watch the video on Lincoln’s YouTube page, Hudson Rouge, the agency running the campaign for the car maker, is also trying to push the clip out to Web surfers, next to the stuff they’re already looking at.

You can see an example of this right now over at the Los Angeles Times, which is running a “native ad” for the spot on its home page. If you click on the banner ad promoting the clip, you’ll end up on a page that looks a lot like an LAT article (it even has another ad on it) but is actually ad copy, plus the video. (Click to enlarge the image.)

The ad/article comes via DistroScale, one of several companies trying to capitalize on the new interest in native ads — that is, “ads on the Web that look like ‘real’ content” — by creating a platform that lets them “scale” — that is, “instead of making a new ad for each site, figure out how to make each ad look ‘native’ on different sites.”

DistroScale has lots of competition (Lincoln, for instance, is running the same video on using Nativo, a rival native ad startup), but argues that it does a better job because it offers a more complete set of features. The company, founded by a trio of Glam Media veterans, also plays up the fact that after you click on the ad for the ad, you end up on a page hosted by the Los Angeles Times, instead of a “microsite” the advertiser has to build.

I’m not sure if that distinction matters that much to anyone who’s going to watch the ad. But it’s interesting to watch this stuff evolve, regardless.

You can see the ad in its “native” form in the LAT through Saturday. But after that, the clip should still be available on YouTube, and hopefully the embedded player below:

* Until recently, I would have described Aloe Blacc as the “‘I Need a Dollar’ Guy.” Now he’s either “The Guy You Think Is Avicii but Isn’t” or “The Guy in All Those Beats Ads.”

** The pick-your-angle feature is powered by Interlude, an Israeli tech company that has been doing this for awhile, most recently with that Bob Dylan video you saw last year.

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