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Washington post has opened up its platform so that advertisers may create their own blog posts, or advertorials if you will, that are then distributed throughout WP's site. Advertorials have been around in printed papers for quite some time, but on the web such experiments haven't always gone down well. Recall the Scientology ad in the Atlantic? The Washington Post reported that the Atlantic were even carefully pruning the comments there, they probably learned from Atlantics mistake.
As The Washington Post reported, The Atlantic marketing team was carefully pruning the comments, ensuring that they were predominantly positive, even though many readers were leaving negative comments. So while The Atlantic was publishing clearly labeled advertiser-written content, it was also un-publishing content created by its readers -- the very folks it exists to serve.
It's understandable that The Atlantic would inevitably touch a third rail with any "new" ad format. But what it calls "native advertising" is actually "advertorial." It's not new at all. Touching the third rail in this case is unacceptable.
Washington Posts page on brandconnect explains what BrandConnect» is, making sure to brand it with the » arrows at every mention of the name, the newsroom staff are not involved in creating the Brandconnect» content ensuring that editorial staff are staying untainted by ads.
The first Washington post advertorial is "Mobile revving up rural economies, a piece that talks about Mobile Main Street, an open source application developed by West Virginia University. It's posted by John Walls, Vice-President, Public Affairs, CTIA and feels a lot more blogvertorial than the Atlantic's scientology piece. There are no comments enabled, but one can share these posts on any social media. It might blend in better, as we're used to people who carry weight in certain businesses guest-blogging for Forbes or wherever, only to talk about their own pet topic (themselves). Why not a wireless association talking about their own mobile obsession? It looks just like content as we know it today.
Because, like when buzzfeed posions the well, it's a signal when one of the nations biggest newspapers starts blending advertorials into the editorial mix. Either it's a sign that consumers now more readily accept such content, or they simply can't tell the difference any more.