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Paid, Posted, Delivered: What Does the Growth of Native Advertising Mean for Press Releases?

The blending of paid content into newspapers or magazines in a way that can be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from independently reported stories – took a landmark step in US media this January when the New York Times greeted readers with a digital redesign and, to greater buzz, the launch of a “paid posts” feature, a variation of what is more frequently referred to as “native advertising”.

While native advertising is by no means a new trend, many journalists and media watchers reacted to the Times’ move with speculation that belied their vague queasiness at the development, worrying about the increasing lack of distinction between original reportage and paid content in one of the biggest names in news.

The Times, however, with extreme self-awareness and determination to preserve its reputation, went to great lengths to ensure that the paid content appears visibly different from articles (their success on this front of course remains subject to debate). Differentiations include borders, prominent logos and a sourcing tag for the paid content, among other factors. In the case of their first client to use the service, the posts prominently read: “Paid for and posted by Dell”.