How 'Around the Web' Ads are Lowering Publisher Credibility

Have you ever been reading an article on a news website and noticed the “promoted stories” tab at the bottom of the page? You probably assumed they were additional publications written by that site. You may have even been intrigued by the headline and clicked to continue reading. 

The truth is most of these are phony articles placed there by advertisers as clickbait.  For years, this has been a means for publishers to make revenue. Recently publishers have begun considering the potential consequences of these content ads, and some sites such as The New Yorker have completely removed them.

Reasons for this include links leading to questionable websites, false information in the articles, and headlines that juxtapose the publisher’s articles. An article on Slate this year discussing misogyny included a content ad titles, “10 Celebs Who Lost Their Hot Bodies.”   

Titles like these certainly devalue the status and credibility of publisher’s sites. Readers at Slate began showing disapproval of the content ads. One reader was appalled to see an article titled “6 Tips to Avoid Thanksgiving Weight Gain” when reading a Slate article about preventing anorexia.  

For reasons such as these, Slate made the decision to completely remove this content from their site and believed it was worth it. The publisher’s first priority is the customer, and their content ads were interfering with this relationship. Therefore, they have made customer needs their most important consideration.

Other publishers may want to take Slate’s lead. Investing in your readers may mean less revenue now but could lead to big payoffs in the long run. Each publisher needs to begin evaluating whether loyalty or revenue is more important.