A recent opinion piece in the Guardian took "native advertising" to task, accusing it of literally being the devil tempting the souls of publishers. News sites are overwhelmingly turning to what we used to call "advertorials" to generate cash, most of the time to their detriment. Are they exchanging their trusted brand reputation for some quick cash?

We all see the “sponsored content” at the bottom of news articles these days, and maybe once in a while we are even tempted into clicking through to see what it’s about. One of the problems brought up in the post is that in many cases, what someone thought they were going to read about is completely different from what is served up. Instead of finding out about a dangerous food additive to avoid, for example, you are being pitched to buy a new nutrition supplement.

How does the reader feel when they have been steered down this road by an iconic brand that they have trusted for many years? That is the point of this editorial. It asks whether publishers really want to mortgage their brand future by presenting confusing advertising offers?

It does not help when the native content is disguised as being “from around the web.” Why not tell us what it is up front? Is it because if we knew it was advertising we wouldn’t click through? Doesn’t that tell you something about the legitimacy and ethics of the strategy?

Granted, if the publication fails to survive, keeping its integrity may be a moot point. However, losing loyal readers because you are engaging in deceptive practices can’t build long term value.