Turns out it’s not just the hardtracking staff that thinks native advertising is a menace to editorial integrity.

Exhibit A

This piece headlined “What the Atlantic learned from Scientology: native advertising is harder for news brands” in the aptly named paidContent:


At an ad industry event in New York on Wednesday, an Atlantic Digital executive explained what the company had learned from a January debacle involving the Church of Scientology. (In case you missed it, the Atlantic pushed the boundaries of so-called “native advertising” by publishing a feel-good “sponsored story” about the religion — or cult, if you prefer — that included only positive reader comments.)

“The biggest mistake in retrospect was that it wasn’t harmonious to our site and it didn’t bring any value to our readers,” said VP and General Manager Kimberly Lau . . .


Harmonious to our site? More like harm-ominous to their readers.


Exhibit B

Also from paidContent:


When advertising becomes content, who wins — advertisers or publishers, or both?

Andrew Sullivan, the former Daily Beast writer who recently launched his own standalone publishing venture, has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t like advertising, which is why his site is supported entirely by reader subscriptions. And he also made it clear in a recent series of posts that he doesn’t like the growing trend of sites like BuzzFeed using what they call “sponsored content” as a replacement for traditional advertising — something he suggested was ethically questionable for media entities of all kinds.

Like it or not, however, this phenomenon is becoming more and more commonplace — and not just at new-media ventures like BuzzFeed but also at traditional publishers like The Atlantic. Is it the savior of online media, or just another mirage in the advertising desert? This is a question we are going to discussing at length at paidContent Live in New York on April 17, including a panel entitled “The future of native advertising: Blurring ads and content.”


(Shameless plug: Want the hardtracking staff to attend that panel and report back to you? Send us $5 and we’ll trundle down to the Big Town next month.)


Exhibit C

From Forbes.com:


Buzzfeed Using ‘Featured Partner’ Links on Fark to Drive Traffic to Its Native Ads

One of the wonderful things about Fark, the weird/funny/stupid news aggregator, has always been its utter simplicity. Fark.com is little more than a running scroll of cleverly worded one- or two-sentence links to stories from around the web. Like the Drudge Report, to which it’s often compared, it has changed little since its inception in 1999.

Or had changed little, anyway. Recently, Fark users began seeing some links marked “Featured Partner” on the heavily-trafficked homepage. The “Featured Partner” in question is Buzzfeed, which is using the partnership to generate more audience for its “sponsored” articles, its form of native advertising.


Hey, native advertisers:

Fark you.


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