The New York Times reports that Forbes.com has begun serving paid links within articles written by journalists.
"We want to be trailblazers, whether from an advertising standpoint or an editorial standpoint," said Jim Spanfeller, president and chief executive at Forbes.com, part of Forbes Inc. The company will keep a close eye on its readers' reaction throughout the summer. "We would walk away," Mr. Spanfeller said, if readers indicated confusion or disapproval of ads within the editorial content.
The story broke at DMnews when Brian Morrissey; "Forbes.com has begun to embed advertiser links in its news articles, making it the first major Web news publisher to experiment with mixing ad units within editorial content."
Are the minors joining in? Or have they already been doing this for a while? J. Calacanis blog details a strange offer made by Farks PR/ad service, instead of shilling him an adsquare on the side of the page, they offered an editorial link for 300-400 USD. "just buy the editorial.". Reactions to this is varied, as can be gleaned in this metafilter thread many miss or ignore the point it's not that there are ads in there, its that they are not marked as such.
At least when Forbes.com visitors roll their mouse over a sponsored link within a journalists article, a CSS box appears with ad copy and the magic words "sponsored link".
How much of the webs real estate will be advertising in the end?
Or the worlds 'real life' real estate for that matter - the linked article at Maisonneuve describes the phenomenon of stealth marketing in form of paid product placement mentioned by real people at regulars bars.
"Could you order me a shot of vodka and a bottle of Brand X?"
"Vodka and Brand X?" you ask, "What's Brand X?"
"Oh!" she replies nonchalantly, "It's an herb-laced energy drink. I mix it with my vodka. It keeps me hydrated so I don't wake up with such a hangover. It's really yummy too."
advertising is indeed everywhere.....