The Nieman Journalism Lab helpfully illustrates what the hardtracking staff noted yesterday about the blurring of the line between advertising and editorial content.

BuzzFeed adapts its branded content approach to political advertising, and Obama’s in

Obama for America becomes the first political group to experiment with BuzzFeed’s new approach to advertising.

Add this to the signs that BuzzFeed is becoming a serious player in the media business: campaign ads.

More specifically, native, BuzzFeed-y, campaign ads. This month Obama for America became the first political campaign to advertise on BuzzFeed.

The Obama for America content consist of campaign videos on pages that look similar, if slightly less busy, to most posts on BuzzFeed. One exception is the pages come with more overt labeling, spelling out that it’s “Paid Political Content” for readers. But it’s more or less political ad content adapting to the form, taking the same approach BuzzFeed uses with companies like like JetBlue or Virgin Mobile.

Translation: BuzzFeed’s all about ads in sheep’s clothing.

BuzzFeed COO Jon Steinberg:

“We’ve only had big traction with brands in the last nine months or so . . . Looking forward, there’s a lot we hope to do in Washington.”

Looking forward, there’s a lot we hope they won’t do in Washington.

But that’s just whistling past the graveyard of traditional journalism.


John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
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