If you clicked on this story for your “free” gift card, you’ll definitely want to keep reading. I’ve issued plenty of warnings about “free” products, and some of you, dear readers, think I’ve gone too far.
After all, aren’t some of the best things in life free?
Not a day seems to go by that I don’t receive an email that commends me for my “well-written” site and asks, “Do you accept sponsored content and if so, how much you charge?”
These blind queries — they’re so generic that they can’t even bring themselves to address me by name or say which site I write for — are being sent by companies trying to place what’s called “native” advertising online.
Here’s what you need to know about native content: They’re ads masquerading as objective stories. And the practice has become so worrisome that the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates this form of advertising, recently held a workshop to discuss the problem.
Ever had a “duh!” moment that you regretted for years to come?
Here’s one: you’re a college freshman living with your grandmother for the summer. You’re running a few errands in town with a friend and you pull into the parking lot of a grocery store. Some guy approaches and offers to sell you a “new” TV, “still in the box”, for just $40.
Ah, your own TV! Wouldn’t that be great? No more sharing the TV with grandma. Can you have a look at it, you ask?