Tuesday, January 20, 2015
This is a screenshot from the Prawfsblawg website. The top post in the above picture is an advertisement, written by Westlaw. The bottom post is actual content. There’s no noticable differences in font style, color, or size of the type. The only real tip-off that they're different is the tagline on the top post. That tagline, however, fudges the nature of the post (by tossing in the name of some law professor who has lent their name to West's content it looks like a real blog post). I scrolled over this post a couple of times last week and did not internalize that it's an ad.
This is ethically dubious. It's also not a great strategy for running a blog. When advertisers start writing your posts for you, readers should stop trusting you as an source of honest scholarly inquiry.