by Chance Hoener
The news and advertising have always had a sticky relationship. The news needs advertising, especially with publications relying more and more on advertising income, but the news is still the news, and it has to stay objective. A fine line is drawn between keeping advertisers happy and promoting their products, and with the introduction of “native advertising,” that line is getting finer. What is native advertising exactly? The phrase has been thrown around a lot lately. According to Wikipedia – the simplest way to grab a definition – native advertising is “an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience.” It goes on to say that the goal is to make paid advertising “less intrusive” and “appear more consistent with other media in the user’s universe.” In Todd Wasserman’s Mashable article, he gives different perspectives about what native advertising entails. He cites the CEO of Deep Focus, Ian Schafer, as comparing native advertising to the advertorials of the past. I don’t know about you, but that concerns me. The line is drawn at using advertising that looks like content, or having stories that are sponsored by a brand. The media is meant to serve the reader, not its advertisers. The publishing industry has taken a dangerous turn with native advertising and it could be dangerous for the news. If you’ve got a little time, and enjoy witty takes on serious issues, check out John Oliver’s piece on native advertising: The next time you’re reading a Buzzfeed article about the 21 best pumpkin spice recipes that is sponsored by Starbucks, think about how this could change media forever. What do you all think? Is native advertising and okay way for publications to support themselves, or will it be dangerous to journalism?