A digiday.com article recently delved into the challenge that digital publishers face when it comes to content recommendation engines on their sites. When a respected site such as The Atlantic has links to content such as “The Latest in Gray Hair Solutions” - thinly disguised ads masquerading as legitimate articles - there is cause for concern.

News sites are searching for revenue streams, and recommendation engines are willing to pay for a place on their pages. However, the worry is that while the money is good, the impact on the publishers’ brands may suffer.

Many journalists are embarrassed by the links. Others believe that advertisers would not be paying for the space if it wasn’t attracting activity, and the ability to monetize through this form of advertising keeps content free to the public.

The divergent opinions are best articulated by remarks from Slate magazine’s editor, David Plotz, who believes that the links generate revenue for his company while providing an additional service to the readers. On the other hand, New York magazine Editorial Director Ben Williams has stated that the revenue does not offset the downsides he perceives, including sending visitors off-site and the aesthetics affecting his brand.