Monday, December 15, 2008

Advertorials and Paid Adveritsements

How many of you remember your school yearbooks? Well, when I was younger I would ask my parents to buy me a yearbook and it would cost around $65.00. When my parents looked through the yearbook, they were shocked to see how many advertisements were listed within the yearbook. "Why should we have to pay for a book full of advertisements?! When I was in high school, the school banned yearbook advertising because they didn't want the students to pay for advertisements." Yearbook staffers and companies defend these actions by claiming that advertisements keep prices low.

The world of advertisements is blending with everyday society more and more with each passing day. With people and businesses looking to save money or cut production costs, many businesses are starting to utilize the money-making power of advertisements. One high school teacher in San Diego decided to raise extra printing money for his tests by placing advertisments on his students tests. Another school in Florida sold McDonalds advertising space on school report cards (Teacher sells ad space on test, 2008).

While some people don't see the harm in this form of advertising, some psychologists believe that advertisements end up affecting children subconsciously (Teacher sells ad space on test, 2008). Advertisemetns are starting to become even harder to avoid and they are becoming more difficult to spot with search engine placements and advertorials. What is an advertorial? An advertorial is "an advertisement designed to simulate editorial content, while at the same time offering valid information to your prospective clients." Since consumers are more likely to believe editorial content than advertisements, this type of advertising leads the consumer to believe the claims that are made (What is an advertorial, 2008).

What about paid placement in search engines? How many of us have ever clicked on a link expecting to seek answers about a search and suddenly realizing that what you clicked on was an advertisement? You are not alone. One out of every six internet users could not tell the difference between an unbiased search and a paid search advertisement. Due to this confusion, paid search engine ads tend to have a click-through rate of over 18 percent in comparison to natural listings which only receive a click through rate of 4 percent (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008).

With the possible ethics issues of deceit within advertorials and paid seearch engine advertisements, how can companies avoid poor corporate reputations and censorship from the Federal Trade commission? For paid search engine advertisements, the FTC requires these ads to have "clear and conspicuous disclosure" of advertising on search engines (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). For example, on Google there is a separate listing on the side that says "Sponsored Links". In terms of advertorials, there are a few suggestions for clarifying the meaning of advertorials (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008):

* Use "paid advertising" labels in order to specify that it is an advertisement.
* Make the advertorial distinctive in order to separate it from the actual editorials.
* Use a third party disclaimer to show that it is a paid advertisement and not an editorial created by the news source.

Teacher sells ad space on test. Mom Logic. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 9: Walking the line: Ethics in New Media IMC. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

What is an advertorial? Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

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