For years, as it became clear that the concept of the captive audience was dying, some have been banging the drum, trying to convince the advertising industry that just trying to get more intrusive and annoying was a very bad idea. The more obvious solution was to recognize that ads are content by themselves -- and, perhaps more importantly, content is advertising, though it's not always immediately clear what for. If the content/advertising is interesting and entertaining people will actually seek it out, which has to be a lot more effective as advertising than annoying the crap out of people. With this as background, it would seem obvious that the advertising industry might look to the existing entertainment industry with a plan to support the creation of new music and movies with a sponsorship twist. To some extent, this is exactly what's happening in China, where consumer products are looking to famous musicians to act as sponsors -- and that pays for the new music more than CD sales. However, in the US, so far, the "advertising as content" meme is starting to worry those who fear that there's a real risk in "blurring the line" -- especially when it comes to news content. While it's an interesting debate, to some extent it's missing the point. It's only looking at things from the "ads are content" viewpoint, rather than the "content is an advertisement" angle. When you realize both are true, it becomes a little harder to figure out what line is blurring in the first place. You read Techdirt because you like the content (hopefully!). However, it also acts as an advertisement for our business. Is that "blurring the line?" Obviously, misleading or deceitful promotions are a problem -- but, as plenty of people seem to be noticing these days, it's increasingly difficult to hide dishonesty when everyone has an easily accessible megaphone. So, perhaps a little line blurring isn't really all that problematic -- since it's not clear that line was ever really there in the first place.
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