Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cash for Headlines

In today's Mint, there is a story on DNA's ad campaign which has headlines like "Make the Headlines tomorrow. By paying for it." DNA itself has a private treaty firm which trades adspace for equity. Mint - adhering to good journalistic practice - has made it clear that its own parent company too has an ads-for-equity division. Until this article I hadn't realized that this was such a pervasive practice.

In advertising a decade ago, during a downturn clients paid in cellphone minutes, mangoes and even land. There are some obvious merits to this barter economy, but the transparency to the reader varies. An option is to allow these firms a certain number of regular ads and also a guaranteed amount of access to the editorial teams where they can pitch their merits. The decision of whether the pitch justifies an editorial mention would be solely with the journalists. And the publication could make available a list of firms in which it has a stake - much as stockbroking firms do when making a recommendation.

The online world isnt free from paid editorial either - there are sites which offer money for giving their products coverage in your blog. Advertiser driven programs on TV and product placements in movies are mainstream and don't attract the flak that the print media does. Interesting that print is being held to a higher standard of disclosure than the new media.

PS: Nobody paid me to write this piece and I don't own shares in any of the publications mentioned here!

No comments: