Fox School of Business funds native advertising

Following the school’s falsified data scandal, the school purchased the ad in a business school information site.

The Fox School of Business purchased native advertising on Business Because, a website that provides business school and MBA program information.

The sponsored article, titled “What’s Next For Temple University’s Fox School of Business?” is like most native advertisements, labeled as a paid promotion but styled to look like a news article. 

It features a discussion with Ron Anderson, Fox’s interim dean, and mentions the fraudulent data scandal that hit the business school earlier this year, resulting in the resignation of former Dean Moshe Porat. 

“Now, after a year that saw the removal of Fox’s previous dean for falsifying data to US News, Ron’s instatement as interim dean — particularly as it coincides with the school’s centennial this year — marks an important new chapter,” according to the native ad.

The advertisement comes in the wake of the rankings scandal, in which in the school was found to have submitted falsified data for years to boost its U.S. News & World Report rankings, which reached No. 1 for its Online MBA program. Fox inaccurately reported data for the Online MBA and six other programs.

The business school is being sued by several students and is under investigation by several state and federal agencies. 

The native ads will improve Fox’s tarnished image, said Ashwani Poonie, a senior actuarial science major.

“Given the current situation, this will reinstate trust in people,” she said. “If people ever read about Fox at some point, this will put it in a better light. People will see it as desperate, not dishonest.”

The advertisement focuses on the school’s plans to increase its industry ties to connect its graduates with jobs and update its finance program to keep up with changing fields.  

Chris Vito, a university spokesman, declined to comment on the advertisement.

Advertising professor Tracy Agostarola said native advertising is effective at grabbing people’s’ interest. She referenced a 2015 study by the Mobile Marketing Association that found native advertising performs up to 10 times better than traditional mobile advertising. 

“We are trained to ignore a lot of advertising,” Agostarola said. “Because this looks like content, people are coming and searching for it.”

The use of native advertising, however, is often scrutinized for its attempt to disguise itself as traditional news media. 

These advertisements can confuse readers, journalism professor Aron Pilhofer said.

“That is the risk,” Pilhofer said. “In a lot of cases, people don’t know what sponsored means. They don’t understand that this means that this isn’t written by the news organization.” 

Pilhofer was an editor at the New York Times when the publication decided to allow native advertising on its online and print platforms for the first time. Publications used to have stricter rules about the overlap of advertising with publication-produced content, he said.

“There was a debate,” he added. “Ultimately, the decision was made to do it with some pretty strong guardrails in place.” 

Fox’s native advertising is a good strategy to rebuild the school’s reputation after the rankings scandal, said Layal Zuabi, a junior international business administration and real estate major. 

“It’s a good crisis management technique,” she said. “I personally think it’s fine.”

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