The Ever-blurring Lines Between Advertising And Editorial

September 10, 2014


This week on one of my favorite public radio shows, On the Media, they did a wonderful segment on the ever-blurring lines between advertising and editorial. Publishers are required by law to distinguish between the two, but the push towards “native advertising” has started to render the distinction, well… indistinct.

“Native advertising” is advertising that is disguised as content. It’s troubling because it undermines the trust readers have in their content providers. Of course, convincing readers that an ad is actually independent editorial is an effective (if deceptive) form of marketing, so advertisers push for it. I know that in our case, we get six or eight solicitations a month for paid content.

The number of publishers who agree to these schemes – including some of the most prestigious in the world – is disappointing, and it affects our ability to sell traditional, not-a-trick advertising.

If you’re wondering about our policies, here they are. And do give the OTM segment a listen – it’s fun and very informative about something that touches your life every day.