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Evaluating Websites

Can You Recognize an Advertisement?

Sometimes when viewing a website, it can be difficult to tell what is an advertisement and what is not. Many websites have begun using something called native advertising, which attempts to sell or promote a product by marketing it as an article or a news story. These kinds of advertisements appear on news sites, magazine sites, social media, etc.

Below is a screenshot of the front page of a left-leaning news magazine called Slate. Can you tell which of the items on the front page are advertisements and which are not? How can you tell? Scroll down for the answers!

Screenshot of Slate Magazine home page, February 6, 2017. 


There are three advertisements readily visible on this page:

  • ​​Cox (top of the page) : this is a straight-forward banner advertisement for a commonly-known Internet and cable provider.
  • "How a Homeless Veteran Built a Fitness Empire From Scratch" (bottom-left): this is an example of native advertising, where an advertisement is disguised as a news story. The tip-off: the phrase "Published by Hiscox" indicates an advertisement.
  • "AdChoices" (bottom-right): this is an advertisement for a tax software company. Although you cannot see the full ad, the  phrase"adchoices" at the top of the box, along with the visible pricing information, should tip you off that this is an ad.