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Native Advertising, Unorthodox Car Reviews & Ethics of Auto Journalism

More native advertising appears to be in the works at the New York Times (and elsewhere) according to Karl Greenberg in Marketing Daily. He quotes Times Executive VP, Advertising, Meredith Kopit Levien, “Native advertising exploits the form, factor, discovery mechanism and production values of the surrounding content, taking the shape of the storytelling around it and aspiring to similar engagement.” In other words, it is a symbiotic relationship riding on the back of editorial content and that is what many in media believe it should be called. One thing it should not be called is “deceptive” according to Eric Berry in Publishing Insider. He writes, “In order for the native ad space to leverage its full potential, all practitioners must meet an unimpeachable standard of integrity for presenting brand-sponsored digital content to consumers. For native advertising in particular, the risks are existential. Put simply, consumer trust is paramount for native advertising. To that end, publishers must not “disguise” sponsored posts as anything but paid, non-editorial content.

This raised a question when Silvio Calabi sent AW.Com a very readable piece titled, “The car that dare not speak its name.” When we finished we wondered if Silvio had switched to the “dark” side, shilling for a product. He replied, it was just a very unusual review that he thought was worth sharing. You can judge for yourself if it is artful native advertising or a deceptive means of plugging a particular car.

What it's like to own a Tesla Model S - The Oatmeal

Based on their online comments after a Cronkite Conversations panel discussion, Need for Speed: The Ethics of Automotive Journalism for j-school students at Arizona State University, the chance to drive new cars, take trips to exotic locales and take home some swag caught the attention of the audience, despite some straight talk by a quality panel assembled and moderated by Micki Maynard, a visiting professor of business journalism at ASU. Guest panelists were: Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor, Kelley Blue Book and former editor, Road & Track; Larry Edsall, editorial director,; and Tom Kowaleski, former vice president of corporate communications, BMW North America.

Various reports and studies have established the amount of video being produced for the various screens available is climbing steadily, as is digital content consumption. Barry Lowenthal, in his Media Post Blog (May 7) asks a good question, “Who Is Going To Watch All That Video?! One answer is that new, shorter ways of communicating are evolving.