@jeff: Yeah, it was ads for IE, not games. I think the reason why people jumped on the corruption train with that one so fast was because those kind of ads are rarely done in the games press (we're more used to the traditional banner ads) and it was right around the time Polygon got a lot of shit for being "negative" about the PS4 (before release IIRC?). Those kind of "this video is sponsored by..." ads are a lot more normal in sports journalism and the likes.
Yeah, a lot of stuff lined up in a specific way that made those ads look pretty bad.
A lot of sites that rely on ad revenue are finding themselves in an increasingly tough spot. Typical display ads (banners and stuff) don't work very well any more and, if you're running a site that's used by a fairly savvy audience, your adblock percentages are probably very high. FInding new ways to get advertiser messages in your stuff so you can make enough money to survive without going so far that all of your content is hard to watch and/or looks "bad" is the new struggle. I spend a not-insignificant amount of time fielding quesitons from our sales team that start with "hey, I think I know the answer to this question, but I need to at least be able to say that I asked you directly about <ad campaign that would interfere too heavily with the user experience on the site or put us in a weird position>."
If we took more of those shortcuts we'd probably bring in way more money and be able to hire more people and so on and so forth. But at some point, once you've made all those compromises, is the site even still worth visiting?