Alarm Raised Over Embedded Ads In Online Articles


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The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune are selling paid links within online articles. Links to related editorial content have appeared in blue for years. Now links to e-commerce ads will also appear within articles but in green. Media observers say newspapers need to find new revenue models. But they're also concerned ads embedded within journalistic work go too far.


Newspapers are looking for ways to make money, and recently, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune began trying something new. They're embedding links e-commerce sites like into their content.

From member station KPCC, Brian Watt has more.

BRIAN WATT: The green links don't appear in breaking, national or local news articles, but in blog posts, along with sports, health and entertainment stories. In a review of "Ironman 2," for example, a click on the green words Ironman calls up a page where readers can buy the earlier 2008 film on DVD. If the reader actually buys the DVD the newspapers get a small cut of the sale.

Bill Adee is VP of digital development at Tribune Media Group.

Mr. BILL ADEE (VP digital development, Tribune Media Group): Doing the green links works better than anything else we've seen. It's not a lot of money, though.

Professor GENEVA OVERHOLSER (Director, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism): What is to keep the news operation from enhancing its opportunity to bring in revenues by including more material that is e-commerce linkable?

WATT: Geneva Overholser directs the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Journalism). While worries about where the links could lead, she also knows old business models are collapsing. To survive, newspapers have to find ways to support themselves online. So far, the Tribune Company says the links are just an experiment and don't even pay for a full-time position yet.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Watt.

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