"This month has been a significant one in the world of public relations ethics. September is Ethics Month for the Public Relations Society of America, where folks are promoting the theme of “The New Era of Authenticity.” That same group also has released an “Ethical Standards Advisory” on the burgeoning phenomenon of “native advertising” or sponsored content – the increasingly common practice of embedding informational packages and brand-driven narratives, sponsored by companies and industry groups, into journalism sites and news pages."
"In its “Ethical Standards Advisory” issued on the topic of native advertising earlier this month, the PRSA nobly refers to the need to honor “the ability of consumers to develop informed opinions and to make rational decisions” (PRSA, 2014, p. 1). It calls for “full disclosure” to help audiences do just that. Yet too much industry talk of native advertising glosses over the stark parasitic nature of a practice that literally feeds on the credibility of news content, and too little focuses on the professional implications of content that is, by its nature, suggestively misleading. Native advertising “feels natural,” trumpeted a PRWeb piece (Native Wisdom, 2014). Another advertising executive gushed that native ads are “paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong” (Interactive Advertising Bureau, 2013b). In other words, native ads are ads that are so camouflaged within news content that the viewer simply can’t tell the difference. Not misleading at all."
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Lucrative 'Native Ads' Challenge PR Ethics | Psychology Today