Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion about one of the newest advertising tactics in the journalism world: native advertising.
You might have seen it yourself, if you’ve felt the need to click one of BuzzFeed’s “10 Reasons Why You Should…” list articles.
You’ll have a series of copyright-infringing GIFs, generally stolen in some capacity from other websites, and, at the top of the article, you’ll see that it’s sponsored by Jack Daniels. Or JetBlue. Or whatever.
The idea is that people reading the article will start thinking BuzzFeed isn’t the only company that can put together some fun GIFs to help people avoid reading anything meaningful. That association will, in turn, benefit the brand.
The BuzzFeed / brand relationship is a dubious one at best, but investors are convinced – that’s part of the reason that BuzzFeed just got another $50 million in funding. The real issue for people, though, is that other publications – like The New York Times – are publishing “native advertising” content, too.
This is turning out to be a huge revenue generator for news publications and a great way to build brand awareness for the company. But when branded content starts flowering in every crevice of a news outlet’s website, it becomes more difficult to decide which is good to eat and which is a poisonous, subjective berry.