We see them all over the place and we all hate them! They are technically what is known as an advertorial...an advertisement in the form of editorial content or a legitimate news story. They have actually been around a long time because Merriam-Webster dates the origin of the word to 1946.
In printed publications the advertisement is usually written in the form of an objective article and designed to look like a legitimate and independent news story. In television, the advertisement is similar to a short infomercial presentation of products or services. These can either be in the form of a television commercial or as a segment on a talk show or variety show. In radio, they can take the form of a radio commercial or a discussion between the announcer and representative.
Advertorials differ from traditional advertisements in that they are designed to look a genuine article on a particular subject. Usually there is a disclaimer, such as the word "advertisement,” but not always. Advertorials can also be presented as an entire newspaper section inserted within a newspaper as store fliers, comics sections, and other non-editorial content.
A related practice is the creation of material that looks like traditional media (for instance, a newspaper or magazine) but is actually created by a company to market its products. One example is airline in-flight magazines which may feature reports about travel destinations to which the airline flies.
The way things are today, it's getting worse! It can be hard, especially on the Internet, to distinguish between news, serious articles and advertising. They start out with interesting or informative material but then morph into ads camouflaged as news.
Google and Yahoo are rife with advertorials; to me, somehow, it seems deceptive and...immoral. You see an article that looks interesting, click on it, the story comes up on a legitimate website but when you read it, it becomes apparent that the purpose was to drive readers to an advertisement.
The Truth About False and Deceptive Advertising-How to keep ads from getting the best of you (and your wallet)
The Art of Deceptive Advertising: Quick Review of False & Misleading Tricks Used In Advertising
The mentality of Advertisers:
Viewers Are Morons-A common belief among film and TV executives is that everyone who watches media has the intellect of Beavis and Butt-Head. Article
Why your readers might be dumber than you think
Why I Think E-Ink Readers Are Dumb
Why Smart People Are Stupid