From The New York Times
When the guy who ruined the Internet with banner ads tells you that a new kind of advertising might destroy journalism, it tends to get your attention.
That’s not entirely fair. Joe McCambley, founder of The Wonderfactory, a digital design firm, helped build the first banner ad back in 1994. It was a much-maligned innovation that grew like kudzu until it had all but overwhelmed the consumer Web, defining its look and economics for years to come.
Now the new rage is “native advertising,” which is to say advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site. Buzzfeed, Forbes, The Atlantic and, more recently, The New Yorker, have all developed a version of native advertising, also known as sponsored content; if you are on Buzzfeed, World of Warcraft might have a sponsored post on, say, 10 reasons your virtual friends are better than your real ones.
It is usually labeled advertising (sometimes clearly, sometimes not), but if the content is appealing, marketers can gain attention and engagement beyond what they might get for say, oh, a banner ad.
Mr. McCambley is wary. He says he thinks native advertising can provide value to both reader and advertiser when properly executed, but he worries that much of the current crop of these ads is doing damage to the contract between consumer and media organizations.