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Is Native Advertising Even Ethical? (Depends On Who You Ask)

Let’s see.

A dubious six-page insert in the Denver Post appears one Sunday.

You flip through it and see articles like “Reclamation helps balance environment and energy needs” and “Colorado environmental regulations serve as model for rest of the U.S.”

The section is labeled “Advertising Supplement to the Denver Post” and looks, design-wise, somewhat different from the rest of the Post, but clearly intended to look like a Post article.

Yet it isn’t. 

In tomorrow's post by +Demian Farnworth you'll find out exactly what it is and by whom ... 

And he'll talk about the common concerns that surround native advertising, including the stickiest of them all: deception.

Stay tuned. 

And if you haven't already, get Copyblogger delivered directly to your inbox:
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I've not experienced, under any circumstances, or through ANY blogger, the anticipation of a post on it's way.

you know your on top of the world when you have pre post posts.

that said, it's taken me a few to realize that I shouldn't get excited by your pre post, getting ready to "read more"...when "more" isn't ready to be read.
I know what you mean +Vincent Messina I get so excited about where the post is going and then I see it hasn't been published yet. Talk about an anti climax. But what a way to build anticipation :)
The problem with your example is that the advertiser it attempting to put a valid viewpoint in front of readers in a publication with it's own bias. Not only does the advertiser have to get their message across they have to battle the paper's writer's opinions presented as fact. It's hard to call defending themselves from a biased press unethical.
+Dave Cearley But how would you view it if the advertorial had been placed by a group with views that opposed yours? 

The question of whether or not it's possible to have a truly unbiased press is always an important one in this conversation, for sure. 
When it comes to advertorials, I think there are two honest approaches that may win:

1) Talk to the advertisers to come up to content that meets the readers' taste and interests at least midway, even though the advertiser may be promoting a product aimed at a different audience. It's always better to target the audience, but if you have to do things differently, then do them well and make everybody happy.

 2) Put that disclosure in writing /before/ the first paragraph of the advertorial, not with a simple "Sponsored by" at the bottom of the page. People won't see that, but they will see something like:

Title Of the Advertorial

Note: This article was promoted by ABC Company to spread the word about their product. However, we all made sure the content would be helpful and interesting for YOU. Enjoy the read!

Body of the article...
One thing I've noticed (and it may be the subject of a future piece) is that there's a lot of blame/outrage that gets leveled at the publication level for advertorials, but rarely is there that much blow-back on the actual creators of the content.

I think that says a lot about people's level of trust for advertisers, and the type of content that's being put out there as advertorials. To borrow a story, no one seems surprised that the scorpion stings the frog... but they're plenty angry at the frog for carrying the scorpion on its back.

More than anything, it tells me that much of the content seems to fail pretty heavily on the "useful" side of the equation that both journalists and marketers should be looking at.

I like the point that +Lou SEO brings up. If advertorials really are the future, it seems like a new marketing position that should be considered at most newspapers is some sort of "advertorial editor" who works with advertisers to create good quality content.
"The question of whether or not it's possible to have a truly unbiased press is always an important one in this conversation, for sure." +Sonia Simone I'm not sure there is or ever was [although some will cite the halcyon days of Ed Morrow...] My hope is that people understand the need to look at everything with a critical in logic, critical thinking...that thing we used to teach in schools. :)
+Lori Sailiata I like the way the European press handles it -- they acknowledge that they have a point of view, then try to create a well-rounded piece with that in mind. 
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