RealTime IT News

Controversy on Your Site? Let Your Advertisers Know

Planning something controversial on your Web site? Better let your advertisers know in advance.

A new survey says that a substantial majority of national advertisers want to be notified in advance of any potentially controversial print or broadcast content. Presumably, the same would apply to Web advertising.

While 94% want to be tipped off to controversy, only 36% of the advertisers believe they have any influence over editorial or program content, according to a survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The debate over advanced notification surfaced last year after the Wall Street Journal disclosed that a major advertiser, Chrysler Corp., was demanding to know the contents of magazine articles in advance of publication.

Groups representing both magazine editors and publishers issued a joint statement calling for editorial independence and Chrysler later backed off.

Marshall Loeb, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and former editor of Fortune magazine, said the wall between editorial and advertising must not be breached.

"I do not want advertisers in any way to express strong feelings about things we should not cover," he told Reuters. But he quickly drew a distinction between "fact-based" publications in which journalistic standards are applied and media with other forms of content, such as entertainment.

The AAAA survey covered about 50 of the association's member's clients who spend some $10 billion on media advertising annually.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said Internet advertising will become a significant segment of their advertising budget. Of those, 23% said it was happening now, 50% said within two to five years, and 27% said in the next 5 to 10 years.