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Thursday, November 22, 2012

‘Native Advertising’ Disguises Ads As News Stories

This screen grab from BuzzFeed shows a political ad that is presented alongside actual news stories.

This screen grab from BuzzFeed shows a political ad that is presented alongside actual news stories.

American marketers are increasingly trying to package their advertising to resemble something else – television programming, magazine content even Facebook posts.

Now there’s a new approach gaining popularity. It’s called native advertising.

Marketers package up their ads to look just like stories on popular news and entertainment websites.

During the presidential election season, Pres. Obama’s campaign paid BuzzFeed to post content that looked just like one of the website’s “native” news stories.

Savvy web browsers might notice the small box in the corner that says “Paid Political Content,” but otherwise, you’d assume it was a real news story.

The Atlantic has taken the trend one step further with a series of videos called: “Are We There Yet?

They’re all paid promotional spots for Mercedes Benz. The videos are listed as: “Sponsored Content Provided by Mercedes Benz,” but the text appears in a small, light gray font that could easily go unnoticed.

Here and Now media analyst John Carroll says news sites are cooperating with advertisers to present paid content in the same format as news stories. And ultimately, that could end up hurting them.

“They’re signing their own death certificate, because their credibility is going to erode more and more,” Carroll said.


  • John Carroll, Here and Now media analyst and publisher of Sneak Adtack

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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