Saturday, October 15, 2011

Euphemisms for "Advertorial," in Short "Paid Content"

Here's Mint editor R Sukumar's view about what are called Media Marketing Initiatives at Mint (a HT group newspaper). He mentions that in Mint these advertorials (advertisements masquerading as editorials) will be clearly termed "Media Marketing Initiative" somewhere in the copy and, presumably, readers will take care to treat it as paid content. It's a laudable effort on the part of Mint to delineate paid content from editorial and maintain the "Chinese Wall" between advertising and editorial. However, many of Sukumar's contemporaries do not erect this vital wall.

When I was executive secretary of the Advertising Standards Council of India, this issue had come up several times for discussion. At that time I had taken it up with Indian Newspaper Society (INS) and various government departments and the directive issued was such "advertorials" should clearly state "advt." in the copy somewhere to warn readers. However, newspapers have chosen to ignore this advise and have devised their own euphemisms to delineate advertisements from editorial. Times of India calls it Optimal Media Solution.

I see this as an effort by the print media to survive in a diverse market and in an environment of total commercialism. There is more and more competition to eat away clients' advertising budgets. Having worked in both sides of editorial and advertising I can say that the market is indeed fragmented and very fragile.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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