How 'Fake News' Disrupts Sponsored and Native Advertising

Author: Kaitlin Loyd
Posted: Dec 20, 2016

We are all familiar with the fake news phenomenon. From bogus news websites to the bogus content on social media, the line between professional news and viral amateur "information" has become extremely blurred.

Just as fake news articles are on the rise, so are fake news ads.


With the saturation of online content, brands have turned to native advertising to promote fake news in an attempt to get attention and publicity from potential customers.

Sponsored ads, or posts, through native advertising are designed to promote a brand’s content in an organic, uninterrupted environment. Some advertisers and brands are using this platform to deceive and manipulate readers with the goal of starting rumors to fuel the fake news cycle.

The ability to buy native programmatically, or on a targeted impression-by-impression basis, has allowed advertisers to produce any type of content they want, and serve it essentially anywhere across the internet.

What a lot of these companies don’t realize is that this strategy severely hurts their brand reputation.

As marketers, it is our job to ensure we are producing compelling, accurate content that creates a positive brand perception for potential customers.

Even though creating flashy content, such as juicy celebrity gossip or a shocking political scandal, catches the reader’s attention, we want to ensure we are positioning ourselves as thought leaders, not just getting attention or or useless clicks.

Not only are these false native ads taking up precious inventory on major websites, but they are also creating viral rumors and ruining the online news experience for readers.

For example, a false native ad stating that news reporter Megyn Kelly had died served repeatedly on the New York Times website. As a news-seeking reader, you might not even click on the ad, but go straight to your social media account and post about the (fake) news you just read. And the cycle begins.

Luckily, prominent native advertising companies, and the FTC, have strict guidelines and policies to ensure ads are not published that promote outlandish, fake news. However, some advertisers are still seeing ways around this.

There are always going to be advertisers that will try every trick in the book to be noticed amongst this content-saturated online world in which we live; but it is vital for us as professionsal marketers to ensure, especially in the native advertising space, that we are contributing honest and accurate content that promotes the brand and starts positive online conversations.

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