The Rumbled Grift Of “Sponsored Content”?

Here’s an “ad/post/article/sponsored content/whatever, it pays the rent” that leaps out:

Newcastle Ale ‘bought’ me — an in-house copywriter — because actual Gawker writers can’t accept money from advertisers (not that I’m personally cashing Newcastle’s checks but you know, whatever). As someone being paid to write this, I have to say that it’s the greatest ad ever, mostly because Newcastle asked me to use those exact words. Is it the greatest ad I’ve ever been paid to call the greatest ad ever? Yes.

It’s by Stephanie Georgopulos, Senior Content Producer at Gawker Media, or more technically, a “sponsored collaboration” between Newcastle and Studio@Gawker. Yes, the newspeak deepens every time you check in.

It’s an interesting twist on sponsored content, and perhaps – or am I over-reaching? – a harbinger of its eventual collapse.

The “article” is titled: “We’ve Disguised This Newcastle Ad as an Article to Get You to Click It.” Clever, meta – meta-meta even. Even the ad/article/post is meta: “Welcome to the mega huge website we could afford for the mega huge football game ad we couldn’t afford.” But all of this pirouetting suggests to me that Gawker’s “content producers” are beginning to realize that their audience is catching on to the fact that, along with so many other sites, they routinely “disguise an ad as an article to get you to click it.” Now, it seems, to retain any sense of hipness with their increasingly clued-in readership, they have to own the lie, take off their disguise and reveal the fact that large swathes of online content is deliberately deceptive and written by people who know they’ve been “bought” by corporate interests to create propaganda.

At some point, doesn’t the whole house of cards start to tumble? When a grift is rumbled, doesn’t another grift need to be created to fill the gap?

Update here.