Round and round it goes.
Okay, that particular article may not be all that recent.
But of course we've already acknowledged that this isn't a new phenomenon. Why, then, is it now enjoying rather extensive coverage? There may be no other reason than that the journalists who cover the web don't have anything else of particular interest to report. Reports on studies on web addiction, for instance, show up every so often without any visible relationship to when those studies are conducted. In other words, it may be a non-issue which has been artificially catapulted into the limelight. Or perhaps it's been around consistently for the past three years but nobody chose to make it into a hot issue. USA Today Online, for instance, wrote about it in July 2001, as well as in November 2000, and even earlier, in August 2000.
So perhaps this is not only not a new issue, but even a non-issue. But I tend to think that it's authentic. The renewed interest in paid placement seems to be a case of web-onomics raising its head. Tough economic times, especially for the dot-coms, have apparently brought new life to an idea which in less pressing times would have been blessedly left to rest in peace.
Go to: Seek and Ye Shall Buy.