Sulzberger: ‘Our readers will always know that they are looking at a message from an advertiser’

The New York Times

When the Grey Lady embarks on native advertising next year, it’ll aim to do so in a clear, black and white manner “fully consistent with the values of The Times and the expectations of our readers,” according to a letter New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. sent to staffers.

From the memo:

Why is native advertising sometimes controversial? There have been occasions where publishers have put native advertising in front of readers in ways that did blur the line between journalism and commercial messaging. We are all determined that this will not happen at The Times, and we believe we have put all necessary safeguards in place to ensure that it doesn’t.

What will native advertising at The Times be like? Our readers will always know that they are looking at a message from an advertiser. There will be a distinctive color bar, the words “Paid Post,” the relevant company logo, a different typeface and other design cues to let readers know exactly what they are looking at. There will be strict separation between the newsroom and the job of creating content for the new native ads. And, we will require advertiser content to adhere to a very high standard of quality.

We’ve seen native advertising experiments go dreadfully wrong (here’s the obligatory mention of the Atlantic’s scientology fiasco), so the Times seems to be shooting for transparency for the sake of its readers and the newsroom.

Poynter business analyst Rick Edmonds explored the state of native advertising in a preview of a Federal Trade Commission workshop on the topic earlier this month.

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  • SFMH57

    Well, I sure hope to heck he’s right AND he’s telling the truth. Although, the way he explains it, I am having a sort of flashback to the first go-round in modern time when we called all of this simply “advertorial” and were done with it.