Spot The Sponsored Content

A reader writes:

This discussion about blurring the lines of advertising and journalistic content reminded me of the House of Cards ad campaign on Politico. For weeks leading up to the Netflix premiere, the political news site had a pop-up ad for House of house-of-politicoCards plastered all over their site and app. Then they started running articles with interviews from the creator and Kevin Spacey that were also preceded by the same ad as well as the banner at the bottom of the page. Then the day prior to the show’s premier they did a follow-up story, again with the banner ad at the bottom of the article (see attached screenshot). Politico even gets a shout-out on the show when Zoe leaves the world of old media to take a job with the new media site Slugline: “Six months from now, Slugline will be what Politico was a year and a half ago. Everyone at Politico reads it because Slugline’s breaking stories before they are.”

Obviously I don’t know what the contractual agreement is between the two parties, but this stuff just reminds me of shit that the right-wing media pulls when they scare their audience about out-of-control inflation and economic doomsday scenarios during a segment that segues into commercials for gold and survival seed packs. I’m all for new revenue streams, but content created in conjunction with the advertisers can be a slippery slope. One only needs to look at the cozy relationship between the tobacco companies and cable networks during the ’50s to see how a myopic deference to advertisers can do the public a disservice.

A bleg to readers: email us with more examples you find of editorial content and advertising placed perilously close together.