NEW YORK: The way that publishers have developed native advertising is endangering journalism and resulting in reader confusion, a leading industry figure has argued.

Joe McCambley, who set up the The Wonderfactory, a digital design firm, and helped build the first internet banner ad, told the New York Times that when done badly, native advertising was "destructive for the publishers that host it" .

"I completely understand the value of native advertising," he said, "but there are a number of publishers who are allowing PR firms and advertising agencies direct access to their content management systems and allowing them to publish directly to the site."

That was "a huge mistake", he stated, describing it as "a very slippery slope" which "could kill journalism if publishers aren't careful".

"You are gambling with the contract you have with your readers," he added. "How do I know who made the content I am looking at and what the value of the information is?"

He pointed to one well-known site which he said contained "a mix of staff content, contributor content and sponsored content. It's hard to know where you are."

His confusion is likely to grow as a recent report from Altimeter Group said that the next three years would see a plethora of new native advertising products and services as brands experimented with formats and publishers sought to monetise content archives.

Household goods company Clorox is one that is looking more closely at this area. Julie Jensen, senior group manager for media, explained in an Ad:tech presentation earlier this year that native advertising was "the smart way to interact with consumers in a way that it is helpful for them to see that brands are giving them value".

In the future, she suggested, "all advertising should be heading toward native formats".

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff