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Media companies prefer not to use "advertisement" label

Jun 12, 2015

A week's time ago, we posted a story about the importance of labelling native advertising so thoroughly that everyone can tell branded content from editorial.

Yesterday, ran an article about the same subject but with an interesting observation: Media companies don't like to use the expression "advertisement" when they label native advertising.

In fact, media companies get quite creative when they label native advertising while simultaneously avoiding the dreaded A-word. "Sponsored", "promoted" or "presented by" are some of the most popular choices, but the list of synonyms goes on.

Ad Age has put together a fascinating list of the expressions that 20 media companies use to label their native advertising. Notice how none of them use the word "advertisement".

The Atlantic: Sponsor Content

Bon Appetit: Sponsored By

Business Insider: Sponsored/ Presented by/ This Post is Sponsored by

BuzzFeed: Brand Publisher

Chicago Tribune: Brand Publishing

The Daily Beast: Sponsored Content/ Presented by

Elite Daily: Promoted By

Facebook: Sponsored

Forbes: ForbesBrandVoice/ NAMEOFBRANDVoice 

Gizmodo: Sponsored

The Huffington Post: Presented By

Instagram: Sponsored

Mashable: Presented By

adThe New York Times: Paid For and Posted By

The Onion: Presented By

Quartz: Sponsor Content Bulletin By

Refinery29: Refinery29 + BRANDS NAME Present

Slate: Sponsored Content/ Provided By

Twitter: Promoted

The Verge: From Our Sponsor

The Wall Street Journal: Sponsor Generated Content

The Washington Post: Sponsor Generated Content by

Phew. That's a long list and not one "advertisement" among them. We strongly encourage you to check out the Ad Age article as their list includes observations about where media companies graphically locate their labelling in relation to the advertisement. It's a nice piece of research.

The question now remains: Do media companies use these different expressions as euphemisms? Are they afraid that the A-word would lose them eyeballs?

Mike Dyer, managing director-chief product and strategy officer at The Daily Beast doesn't think so:

The Daily Beast, for example, calls its native ads "sponsored content." Mike Dyer, the Beast's managing director-chief product and strategy officer, said referring to these posts as an "advertisement" would be a misrepresentation. "A great display ad will divert people's attention from what they sought out to do," he explained. "Content is the thing people are seeking out. It is the end of the behavior chain."

In other words: Advertisements distract, content doesn't distract, therefore content is not an advertisement and we won't label it so.

Many people probably won't believe Mike Dyer's explanation. Who knows? It's an intricate discussion, one we will continue to follow.

Anders Vinderslev is a trained journalist and former editor and key contributor to the NAI blog. He has, according to himself, produced some of the most thought-provoking and impactful reporting on the state of native advertising. Today he works as a content creator and editor at Brand Movers, but from time to time he will deliver spicy takes on native advertising and sponsored content here at the NAI blog.

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