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August 29, 2014

Mail Online goes native with Home Office sponsored editorial deal

By Axegrinder

Mail Online has begun carrying sponsored content from the Government on its homepage – and is using its own journalists to write it.

This feature from the Home Office is written in the Mail Online style, and displayed like regular news stories and features. But it is flagged up as SPONSORED content at the top.

The story inside also closely follows the Mail Online house editorial style, but is again marked up as SPONSORED.

It is the latest example of ‘native advertising’ – or advertising which is designed to not to look like advertising.

ASA guidelines clearly state that all marketing content has to be flagged up as such, so this seems to stay on the right side of the law.

But this feature about Rihanna's latest bikini, which invites readers to buy their own version, seems to blur the line somewhat between journalism and sales.

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Mail Online is certainly not the only free national newspaper website to sail close to the wind mixing advertising with editorial in its efforts to turn a buck.

This promotional feature in the Mirror, for instance, contains nothing to label it as the marketing content it clearly is:

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