The hardtracking staff yields to no man in its admiration for New York Times media critic David Carr, whose columns are invariably insightful and informative.

Regarding his piece in Monday’s Times, though – frankly, we were there first. But Carr did a nice job of examining native advertising.


Storytelling Ads May Be Journalism’s New Peril

When the guy who ruined the Internet with banner ads tells you that a new kind of advertising might destroy journalism, it tends to get your attention.

That’s not entirely fair. Joe McCambley, founder of The Wonderfactory, a digital design firm, helped build the first banner ad back in 1994. It was a much-maligned innovation that grew like kudzu until it had all but overwhelmed the consumer Web, defining its look and economics for years to come.

Now the new rage is “native advertising,” which is to say advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site.


Nut graf:


Publishers [such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, and Gawker] might build a revenue ledge through innovation of the advertising format, but the confusion that makes it work often diminishes the host publication’s credibility.


In other words, what we’ve been saying all along:

Make advertising look like editorial long enough, and your audience will wind up devaluing both.

Memo to David Carr: Let’s have lunch.


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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