Sponsored advertising is a controversial topic across the media and business spectrum. The problem sparks because advertisers want to expand on their innovative ways to reach a consumer with their ads. The new way to do this is through native advertising, which allows them to reach a consumer about a product sub consciously by keeping them interesting and telling a story.
On the other hand, journalists want content to remain informational and truthful. They don’t want to feel that their audience is being deceived by advertisements blending into news stories. Let me break it down for you:
Lon Otrembais the CEO of a company called Bidtellect, which is a platform for publishers and advertisers to buy and sell native ads. In an article on Business Insider Otrembais described why advertisers are rooting for sponsored content: “After billions of dollars of invested capital and countless hours of engineering… consumers are showing a strong willingness to engage with native ads, particularly when compared with banner ads. People like native ads. And importantly, they're now scalable.” Although this is a breakthrough for advertisers, it manages to have many setbacks for journalists.
This is a big reason why journalists are against native advertising. They believe that sponsored content is deceiving to their audience and misplaces the trust of their industry. The Wall Street Journal editor in chief, Gerry Baker, commented on this controversy saying: “If [advertisers] manipulate the digital or print operations of those news organizations, it makes the reader confused as to what is news and what is advertising, and the reader’s trust, the very reason that those advertisers want to advertise in those news organizations, goes away.”
Although sponsored content may be telling the truth, it can change the perception the reader has about its content. If they are unaware that it’s an ad, it can skew their understanding of its purpose. Although there are many negatives to native advertising for journalists, it can bring in more money for the news industry if they are being paid to include ads as a part of their content.
My biggest hope is that sponsored content will increase revenue for the news industry and keep it alive as it competes within the digital world. It’s essential that journalists and advertisers find a medium that can deliver the results advertisers are expecting, while assuring that the article follows the ethical guidelines of journalism.