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The age of fraud

May 17, 2019
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That article you’re reading might just be an ad

Annie Baxter Jan 28, 2015
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Did you realize the article you’re looking at in your favorite magazine might actually be paid advertising? You may soon be seeing more of that in publications like Wired, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Their publisher, Conde Nast, announced this week that it will deploy magazine editors and digital video staffers to shape some of the paid ads in its print and digital editions. 

“Native advertising is all the rage,” says media consultant Ken Doctor at Newsonomics.

Doctor says Conde Nast’s venture isn’t the first of its kind. Time, Inc. has also deployed editorial staff to help develop paid content. But Doctor says the practice is still controversial.

“So, at Wired Magazine for instance, the new 3-D smart watch comes out, and you’re expecting to get Wired’s take on this,” he says. “But what if Samsung is actually paying to have their ad about the 3-D smart watch written by a Wired staffer?”

Publishers’ ad revenue has shrunk as more competitors pop up online. And Doctor says you can charge a lot more for native ads.

Media consultant Alan Mutter says readers need to be on guard. 

“We have to do more work than ever before to figure out what’s real and who to believe,” he says.

Mutter hopes Conde Nast will help readers discern truth from spin by taking extra care to label its paid content.

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