Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Truth in Advertising?
Any truth in advertising? Depending on who you ask that question of will determine what kind of answer you get. Let’s face it; money is king everywhere you turn nowadays, whether you want to believe it or not. Advertisers and editors want to be able to push the ethical boundaries of sponsored advertising and in the end; it will be the reader that ultimately suffer.
What is being called “native” advertising should be just that, something that is applicable to the content of the story, or “native” to it. What is being called into question is how the editors and publishers are using some of the sponsored ads to possibly mislead people to sites that provide information that is not relevant to the story they are reading. I’m not sure how much more clearly the SPJ Code of Ethics can state it when it says that journalists should: “Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.”
One of the most highly publicized examples of the bad side of sponsored advertising is what happened at the Atlantic:
Source: Seriously Simple Marketing
According to the story on the Seriously Simple Marketing site, the link it provided went to a story about, what the headline of the story said: “David Miscavage leads Scientology to milestone year.” By linking this story the way they did, it gave the appearance that the Atlantic may be endorsing Scientology. As a result of the onslaught of reader emails, Twitter feeds, and Face Book rants, the Atlantic removed it from the page and replaced it with something in part that read that they “removed the ad and were reviewing their ad policies.”
Is making it more transparent really the answer? Does it make it any less wrong to direct me somewhere I do not want to go to? For the most part, the website Buzz Feed, is said to make good use of sponsored advertising while being transparent about it.
There is the fine line of trying to help the reader accomplish whatever their goal is of reading the story and selfless, unethical promotion. Obviously, if someone is paying an exorbitant amount of money for their content to be prominently shown on a webpage page, they want people to know who can help them. The issue is when does it become too much? To me, it is like the pop-up ads that appear on a web page and it takes 2 minutes to find the very tiny “X” to close it. It is frustrating and it not what I came to that particular page for.
As a reader, give me what I want and make it clear. Do not hide your intentions or make me peruse useless information because of your lack of ethics. Quit making me search for a way to close out the very annoying pop-up ads that keep wasting my time searching for the ever elusive close tab. Sometimes it not even an “X”, but some other variation, whatever it is, it is non value added to me.