Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant

man reading from tabletThe Atlantic, the 157-year-old magazine, got into hot water recently when they placed a online story about the Church of Scientology on the publication’s website. The article on the controversial church talked in very positive terms about the successes of the past year in their efforts to expand.

Although the story was marked with a yellow banner that identified it as sponsored content, it could easily appear at first glance as any other article on Atlantic’s site. The article is the latest example of a concept called Native advertising, which many consider a disruptive technology that allows content written by advertisers to be displayed like the articles written by the staff. This crosses the traditional “church versus state” model used in journalism to separate advertising content from editorial content.

The story went viral on Twitter resulting in criticisms over both the church and the publisher the Atlantic’s use of Native advertising. As a result the Atlantic removed the article and replaced it with a notice saying that the company had, “temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

In a statement, the Atlantic acknowledged it “screwed up”. But that does not change the fact that publishers are desperate for new revenue opportunities and Native advertising is one many are considering.  What do you think?

  • As a reader, are you happy, unhappy, or neutral when you think about advertisers writing stories in your newspaper or magazine that appear to be written by the editorial staff?
  • What if the publication said that because of declining ads it had to utilize Native advertising to stay in business?

Howard Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.