How The NY Times Is Dealing With Native Advertising

In a recent article by Michael Sebastian from Advertising Age,  he points out online publications of articles that are written by journalists versus those written by advertisers. Apparently the New York Times has recently made changes to their policy regarding how to label such content known as “native ads.” This new policy makes it slightly more difficult to tell the difference between actual news content and what are essentially long form advertisements. This comes as a bit of a surprise because the New York Times has previously maintained the position that differentiating between these types of content is vital, and that the labels should be clear and obvious.

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Likely, this change in both policy and practice is a result of advertisers being displeased at feeling that readers will avoid native ads.

In defense of the Times, both the author and a spokesperson for the paper point out that one still can tell the difference between these two types of content in this news source. However, in other publications, especially in places like fashion magazine websites, this is not always the case.

It seems that the New York Times and many other publications that have been in circulation for years, or even decades, and have been struggling ever since people began turning to the internet for news have increasingly come to rely on native ads for revenue. With print sales, both for the New York Times and many other papers and magazines, declining, this sponsored content provides a valuable and much needed source of additional revenue.

It should probably be noted that according to this article, readers in general do not like the idea of not being able to tell the difference between articles that are intended to be journalistic news and articles that are actually advertisements. Both publishers and advertisers tend to agree that native ads should be labeled as such, but the main point of contention seems to be just how obvious these labels should be. This will probably continue to be the argument until a label is agreed upon that readers can decipher, advertisers feel does not draw undue attention, and publishers feel allows them to maintain their integrity as sources of information.

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