Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads

 

(NY TIMES)   Articles in a series on Mashable.com called “What’s Inside” looked for all the world like the hundreds of other articles on the digital media site. But journalistically, they were something very different.

The articles, about technology topics in a wide variety of products, including modems and the Hubble Space Telescope, were paid for by Snapdragon, a brand of processor chip made by Qualcomm, and the sponsor of the series. Most were even written by Mashable editorial employees.

An article on Google Glass technology was shared almost 2,000 times on social media, indicating that readers may not have cared, or known, if it was journalism or sponsored content, although the series was identified as such.

Advertisers and publishers have many names for this new form of marketing — including branded content, sponsored content and native advertising. Regardless of the name, the strategy of having advertisers sponsor or create content that looks like traditional editorial content has become increasingly common as publishers try to create more sources of revenue.

Calculating what advertisers spend on such content industry wide is difficult because of the many ways the content is defined and sold. A banner ad on one home page may be comparable in price with a similar banner ad on a different site, but a series of customized articles on one Web site and a series of social media posts on another are harder to compare.

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