Articles in a series on Mashable.com called “What’s Inside” looked for all the world like the hundreds of other articles on the digital media site. But journalistically, they were something very different.
The articles, about technology topics in a wide variety of products, including modems and theHubble Space Telescope, were paid for by Snapdragon, a brand of processor chip made by Qualcomm, and the sponsor of the series. Most were even written by Mashable editorial employees.
An article on Google Glass technology was shared almost 2,000 times on social media, indicating that readers may not have cared, or known, if it was journalism or sponsored content, although the series was identified as such.
Advertisers and publishers have many names for this new form of marketing — including branded content, sponsored content and native advertising. Regardless of the name, the strategy of having advertisers sponsor or create content that looks like traditional editorial content has become increasingly common as publishers try to create more sources of revenue....