Ads in a list of news stories

What were they thinking? The Heber Springs (Ark.) Sun-Times runs links to advertisements on its local news page right between links to news stories. News and unlabeled ads appear in the exact same style:

The link to an ad for 'Drasco Trading Post,' calling itself 'A Unique Shopping Experience,' has the exact same styling as the headlines and abstracts for two news stories it appears between.

The ad for “Drasco Trading Post” is even worse than the masquerading house ad that The (Columbia, S.C.) State ran last month. The Sun-Times’ advertisers are essentially buying placement of their ad as a news item, whether or not it’s marketed that way.

Newspapers have always run advertorials, but I think the critical issue is whether they are labeled as ads. Advertorials should always be labeled. When their formatting is identical to editorial content it is total evil not to label them.

Does the Sun-Times really want to join the ranks of evil user-unfriendly search engines that don’t disclose “sponsored links”? Selling ads to pay the bills is fine. Presenting an unlabeled ad in the middle of a list of news stories is not.

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This page last modified on Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 7:01 pm