The debate on native advertising rages on.
Earlier this month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) again reminded publishers that dressing up ads as journalism calls for clear labeling on the product. Mary Engle, associate director of advertising practices for the FTC, said at the Clean Ads I/O conference, “For us, the concern is whether consumers recognize what they’re seeing is advertising or not.”
In short, don’t try to fool the reader.
But while the FTC and industry watchers try to define when native advertising crosses the line — “I know it when I see it” doesn’t quite work here — the old-school print advertorial is making a comeback. I don’t have the hard numbers, but I’m coming across more of these print advertorials, some of which masquerade as newspaper supplements. Consider these supplements as advertorials on steroids, typically consisting of four to 16 pages stuffed with what appears to be editorial content and advertising. Weirdly enough, the running of actual ads in the advertorial supplement adds to the illusion that it is not advertising.
If you’re thinking only second-tier media would walk this slippery slope, think again.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an eight-page supplement (opening photo shows the cover) from Russia called “Russia Beyond the Headlines.” It does say “Advertising Section” at the top and it does carry the disclaimer, “This supplement is produced and published by the Rossiyska Gazeta (Russia) and did not involve the news or editorial departments of The Wall Street Journal.” Still, with a “look and feel” mimicking a newspaper and being horse-shoe close to the Journal’s design (check out swath of the paper below), I’m sure a large percent of readers assumed they were reading the Journal.