December 19, 2013 Last Updated 2:51 pm

NYT confirms that it will go native in 2014, will publish branded content online

NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. confirms move in email to staff

The New York Times will be publishing native advertising in 2014, a move that it hopes will reverse its advertising declines. Publisher and company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. announced the move in a company email.

“Early next year we’re going to launch a new digital advertising product at The New York Times,” Sulzberger said. “It will be our version of what is sometimes called “native advertising” or “branded content.” It has been developed by our advertising team in close partnership with design and the newsroom, and it will be fully consistent with the values of The Times and the expectations of our readers.”

Sulzberger admitted that the move will be controversial – probably very controversial within the newsroom – and so wanted to explain why the paper was adopting the branded content ad model.

“What will native advertising at The Times be like? Our readers will always know that they are looking at a message from an advertiser. There will be a distinctive color bar, the words “Paid Post,” the relevant company logo, a different typeface and other design cues to let readers know exactly what they are looking at. There will be strict separation between the newsroom and the job of creating content for the new native ads. And, we will require advertiser content to adhere to a very high standard of quality,” Sulzberger said.

While the concept behind this form of advertising has adopted the new name of native advertising, most veterans will simply continue to see this form of branded content as simply advertorial – a generally dirty word within the journalism community. But branded content, or even simply softer, more advertising friendly content has made up a portion of many newspaper’s overall content for a while. Stories on buying auto or real estate often straddle the line between advertising and editorial. Native advertising, though, is definitely about brands and so goes much further than merely meek editorial that surrounds ad sections.

Advocates for native advertising have seen their veteran counterparts as hopelessly outdated and closed minded about native adverting. In a digital media world, new forms of advertising will have to be developed to attract new advertisers, replace old print ones, and prove more effective than banners and buttons.

Where things can get dicey is when these brand content articles slip into news sections, or are not at all labeled. The test will come once they starting appearing on the NYT website.

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