“Now the new rage is “native advertising,” which is to say advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site. ” This from the New York Times’ David Carr (@Carr2n) writing on storytelling ads being a peril to journalism. Carr reports Buzzfeed, Forbes, The Atlantic and, more recently, The New Yorker, have all developed a version of native advertising, also known as sponsored content. As reported by Joshua Benton (@jbenton) of Nieman Labs, the Dallas Morning News, historically one of the more respected papers in country, bragged that by officially extending native advertising for its consumers and clients, the paper was the largest native advertiser in the state. Makes one wonder how long unofficial native advertising has been going on. “Our approach is straightforward and low-risk by serving up original, high-quality content in a contextually relevant environment sponsored by an advertising partner,” said Lindsay Jacaman (@lindsaykjacaman), general manager of digital marketing for The Dallas Morning News and chief revenue officer for the Morning News’ partner in content and digital marketing, Speakeasy. Native advertising is a web advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience. Native ad formats match both the form and the function of the user experience in which it is placed. Advertisers, attracted by a publisher’s brand, create and pay for content to be be placed in a publication in an attempt to have it look like a ‘native’ article written by the publisher of the newspaper or website. Some publishers, looking to hone in on the revenues public relationships agencies are generating with content advertising, are offering content production and editorial services right from their newsrooms. You know, one side of the newsroom supporting real news while the other side, and soon to be the better paid editors and reporters, supporting advertisers. It goes even further with some publishers giving advertisers the keys to the castle by allowing direct access to the publisher’s content management systems. The content should be clearly labeled as advertising. Sometimes it is not. The FTC is going to be taking a closer look. You can see how addicting this could get for publishers, most of whom are struggling. Better than free content, you have someone paying to create content for you. The more you can disguise advertisements as content, the more your advertisers will pay. I am not sure where native advertising is headed for lawyers and law firms. But it gets kind of smelly — to me. No question law firms will be tempted to pay to publish an article in local newspapers and trade publications. Perhaps law firms have been doing so for years by paying public relations agencies to write, edit, and place articles. Publishers are no doubt looking for new revenue models. And advertisers, including law firms, are feeling pressured to get their content in front of people. But at what point is to far in fooling people as to what they are reading and to whom is it from. Rather than then all the news that’s fit to print, does it becomes all the news that’s been bought and paid for?