Jack Shafer

What’s worse than sponsored content? The FTC regulating it

By Jack Shafer
December 6, 2013

What’s more dangerous to consumer well-being, sponsored content or the intervention of the Federal Trade Commission? On Wednesday, the agency held a conference, “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content,” to “discuss native advertising,” as the New York TimesĀ put it. The event attracted several hundred “advertisers, academics and media executives,” who listened to the agency’s views about native advertising — or sponsored content, infomercial, or advertorial, as some call it — those Web ads that are designed to look like editorial content, not ads.

Facebook and the outer limits of free speech

By Jack Shafer
May 30, 2013

The great thing about the Web is that it has given the opportunity to billions of people, who would otherwise never have had a chance to publish, to express their most urgent thoughts with an Internet connection and a few finger-flicks. It’s also the Web’s downside, as you know if you’ve had the misfortune to encounter a triple-Lutz revolting page during a Google search.

And now, a word against our sponsor

By Jack Shafer
March 8, 2013

The Washington Post‘s website joined the sponsored-content stampede early this week with the introduction of its BrandConnect Web product, making it the first major U.S. newspaper to embrace sponsored content, according to Digiday. Other high-profile Web publishers selling sponsored content include Gawker, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes, BuzzFeed, Slate, Cheezburger, Techmeme and The Atlantic. Meanwhile, Fortune magazine is creating Fortune-branded content “for marketers to distribute on their own platforms,” AdWeek reports.

When advertorial bites back

By Jack Shafer
January 15, 2013

At about noon today, the Atlantic put on a very snug hair shirt, issuing a statement of apology and regret for having posted on its website Church of Scientology “Sponsor Content” yesterday.