This was bound to happen.

“Native advertising” – marketing material tricked out as editorial content – is all the rage these days, as the hardtracking staff has noted on numerous occasions.

And media organizations have been entirely complicit in mainstreaming this form of stealth marketing, justifying it as beneficial to consumers who find traditional advertising “intrusive” and just want a seamless stream of information.


[One marketing executive] says he believes the new native ad formats actually are more appropriate and authentic for contemporary news audiences because there has been a generational shift in the way they consume content and the way people communicate in general.

“Especially with the new generation, if it’s in advertising, it’s suspicious,” he says.


Used to be the other way around: If advertising was disguised as content it was suspicious.

So it goes.

Anyway, the whole thing blew up in the branded contenters’ faces yesterday.

From Yahoo! News:


The Atlantic pulls Scientology-sponsored blog post

Following harsh criticism, The Atlantic magazine pulled a blog post published on its website late Monday that was sponsored by the Church of Scientology. The post had touted the church’s “milestone year” under leader David Miscavige, who succeeded its founder, science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

“We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads,” Atlantic spokeswoman Natalie Raabe wrote in an email to Yahoo News.

The blog post—labeled “sponsor content”—began: “2012 was a milestone year for Scientology, with the religion expanding to more than 10,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, spanning 167 nations—figures that represent a growth rate 20 times that of a decade ago. The driving force behind this unparalleled era of growth is David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion.”


Here’s the entire post.

And here’s hoping it’s Kaddish for sponsored content at The Atlantic.

But don’t hold your breath.


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.
John R. Carroll has 305 post(s) on Sneak Adtack