Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Of Course the Washington Post Is Selling “Native Ads”

Everyone from Google to the New York Times is getting into the “native ads” business. So of course the Washington Post will, too.

The paper is calling its version “Sponsored Views,” and in English that means “little text boxes you can buy on our op-ed page.” They look like this:

washington post native ads

The main difference between this and other “native” ads is that they are being pitched to advertisers specifically as a way to interact with stuff the Post has already published. “Don’t miss your chance to respond at a moment’s notice,” says the Post’s ad for its ad.

You can see what it looks like, way, way down on this page, after the end of the editorial on housing finance reform, past the six links for other Washington Post stories, and beyond the ad selling reprints.

And like most “native ads” or “sponsor content” or whatever you want to call them, these seem fairly innocuous but also not very effective. You would have to be very, very dim to think that this was “real” Washington Post content. But, per above, you would also have to work pretty hard to find the ad/message/content, anyway. In fact, there is a big push in Web publishing now to stop running ads anywhere “below the fold” on Web browsers, since almost no one sees them.

But the most newsworthy thing about the Post’s move is how un-newsworthy it is. In the olden days, like a couple years ago, “Sponsored Views” might have been treated to a round of teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing about What It All Means. But by now there’s no doubt what it means: Web publishers really need more ad money, and they’ll jump through lots of hoops to get it.

[UPDATE: A Waspo pr rep points out that this isn’t the company’s first foray into native ads: Earlier this year the launched something called  BrandConnect, which runs on the site’s homepage. See? This stuff is old hat now.]

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus