In a recent InfoWorld post, Robert X. Cringely discussed the proliferation of sponsored content (i.e. online advertorials), in which online publishers offer space to companies to create "articles" of their own to engage prospective buyers. Cringely warns that this could be "the future of media as we know it."

Online content marketing is fast becoming a trend that can’t be ignored. Media publishers tell their advertisers that instead of placing ads on the media site, why not create content that better serves the advertising purpose – engaging prospects and creating a perception of need? Buying into this “content stream” allows advertisers to basically create their own news stories.

In other cases, bloggers are submitting articles to media sites that were actually commissioned by advertisers. In this case, publishers who are hungry for new content are only too happy to publish these posts, either not knowing or not caring who the driving force behind the post really is. The archaic concept of keeping news away from the influence of advertisers is evaporating.

This separation between the business side of journalism (advertising, circulation and revenue generation) and the content side is becoming blurred, or even merging. Readers who are unable to discern news from advertising are going to find themselves increasingly confused and annoyed. When a media company loses its reputation and readers’ trust, the value to the public, and thus advertisers, ends.

In the end, marketers who rely too much on content marketing/advertorials and ignore the power of legitimate, credible third party earned media coverage (i.e. journalism) to actually influence opinions and behaviors, do so at their own peril.