Last Wednesday, Techpowerup published what appeared to be a comparison between AMD’s Radeon RX 560 and Nvidia’s GTX 1050. Both are budget graphics cards in a similar price range, and consumers may want to research which choice is better for them. What readers are unlikely to notice is the small “advertorial by AMD” hidden off to the side on the top right. That, combined with the author being named “Advertorial” are the only indications that the content is sponsored on the entire page.
The article reads much like a review from an independent journalist, with no disclaimers within the article itself that it comes from AMD or is sponsored by AMD. In fact, the article was posted directly in the “Reviews” section, a place where users should be able to view an honest opinion rather than a sponsored one. The comparison makes a very strong case for AMD’s RX 560, but does so using misleading representation of data.
The chart included in the article shows the RX 560 performing better on every single game benchmark. The problem is that the chart isn’t even graphically accurate. For example, for Resident Evil, the GTX 1050 scores 63 FPS, but somehow ends up on the left side of the “60 FPS” vertical bar. In addition, the graphs don’t seem to be to scale.
The benchmark results also seem to vary from what has been found by independent reviewers. Throughout my research on the web, it seems that the RX 560 and GTX 1050 trade blows in terms of performance, so it’s very likely AMD cherry picked their benchmarks to best represent their card.
With the rise of ad-blocking software, traditional script-based ads are becoming ineffective, especially when a site relies on catering to tech-savvy individuals that are more likely to run adblockers, leading many news sites to adapt sponsored articles disguised as real content. It is considered important ethics to properly mark sponsored content as sponsored, rather than trying to hide disclaimers off to the side.