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Identifying Information Sources Online

Help with determining what type of source you've found online


Advertisements are easy to spot, right? 

Most of the time they are easy to identify. We're pretty familar with banner ads and paid ads in a lot of search result lists. We've seen various websites with advertisements on the page. We all know about the dreaded pop-up ads. 

However, sometimes it is harder to figure out if something is an advertisement or not, especially online. 

In this section, we're going to review how to spot native advertising, which is one of the most difficult types of advertising to spot and most likely to confound us when we are trying to identify sources online. 

Native Advertising

What is native advertising?

Native advertising, also known as sponsored placement or paid posts, is a way that marketers for corporations and products camouflage advertisements to look like news articles. Native advertising is most often seen on news websites, but can also be found in print sources, like newspapers and magazines, as well. 

Native advertising can be difficult to distinguish from actual news articles, so you'll need to be especially vigilant when checking your sources. 

Native Advertising Characteristics

  • Appearance: Looks like other news stories
  • Sponsor: Look for a logo or notice that says that it is sponsored or paid for by a company. These notices are usually in very small type and found either at the beginning or the end of the native advertising piece. 

Native advertising is usually not considered an appropriate source for research papers, unless you are doing a research paper on native advertising. 

advertising example