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Would You Outsource Your Native Ads?

by Frank Strong

paid media, earned media, native ads

Does it matter if you can’t tell the difference between paid and earned media?

Media outlets are hiring writers that are not journalists.  Instead these writers are hired to write advertisements, which are designed to look like news stories, for advertisers.

So reported Michael Sebastian in an AdAge article titled: Who’s Behind the Sponsored Content at BuzzFeed, Gawker, Hearst and WashPo?

It’s disruptive on so many levels – for journalism, advertising and PR.




  • Journalism. It used to be that only reporters wrote content not only designed to look like news, but actually was news.  What does it mean for the credibility of a media outlet when consumers catch on that there’s content disguised at news, but it’s up to them to guess which?  What does that mean for business reporting?  Or politics?  Or fires, crashes and police reports for that matter?
  • Advertising. It used to be that business that wanted to create ads would hire an agency to create and purchase ad space. Sometimes this would be split into two firms – a creative firm and a media buying house.  It seems to me these media publications are aiming to cut out the middle man unseat advertising firms.
  • PR.  Is it the death of earned media?  In a Twitter conversation with Erik Deutsh he wrote, “Clients are already warming up to the idea that their PR agency is now in the paid media business.”  There’s no doubt it’s increasingly taking a blend of earned, owned and paid media to move the needle – and social media is increasingly a pay-to-play landscape.

The question that remains is the value proposition for the customer.  Would you outsource your content to a publication in which you are also advertising?

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The copyright in this edition is 1998, but I probably didn’t buy and read the book until 2000 or 2001....