The issue with sponsored content is that it often seems to blur the lines between editorial content and advertising. When an ad looks exactly like an article, it can create confusion among readers. However, Sulzberger wrote in a memo to staffers that there would be a “strict separation between the newsroom and the job of creating content for the new native ads.”
The Times will distinguish native ads by placing a blue border around them, along with a colored bar and a “Paid Post” notification. The sponsored content will begin in January on the home page and other popular sections of NYTimes.com. The number of paid posts — created by the ad department — will be small, at least at first.
It’s unfortunate that the Times even has to take the native ads route, but that’s how things go now. Running the best newspaper in the world takes a lot of money, and sponsored content is an easy way to bring in heaps of it.