Publishers Reconsider Sponsored Links

No More Like This.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 10.09.55 AMMedia outlets are growing tired of sponsored links. The main reason is that in a time when more people than ever doubt the media’s legitimacy, the links can sometimes lead to incorrect or even offensive articles.

Sponsored links are shown below an outlet’s content, typically headlined with something like “Around the Web” or “You Might Also Like.” For an example, just look below this article. Adweek’s sponsored links are all under that “More From The Web” headline.

The problem is that often the links take readers to questionable sites that are essentially just more ads or contain incorrect information. Sometimes sponsored links are just downright unethical, like a link about Hollywood stars’ bikini bodies shown below an article on eating disorders.

While some outlets still use the links, Slate and The New Yorker have abandoned them. Keith Hernandez, Slate’s president, told the New York Times the ads are “built on a premise for publishers to maximize revenue — it’s not built on a premise of finding the next great things for your readers to do.”

“When you’re looking at things from that prism and you’re not maniacally obsessed with monetizing every single pixel, Outbrain [a sponsored link company] is very obviously not fitting into your equation anymore,” continued Hernandez. “If your readers’ trust and loyalty is No. 1 as the thing you care about most, you can’t have that on your page.”