Maybe regulation was the content-marketing trend that sneaked under the radar when predictions were being made for 2016. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought out a series of guidelines for native, while in the UK the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been taking an interest in the likes of BuzzFeed.
Perhaps that’s what inspired the Guardian to publish guidelines of its own. These look at different types of paid content and how they can be labelled – and are accompanied by a helpful description of what they might mean.
The guidance falls into two categories. Firstly, for articles labelled “supported by”, it states:
“‘Supported by’ is used to describe editorially independent content. We accept funding from third parties both for new projects and for content we are already producing. Before funding is agreed with a client, relevant senior editors are consulted about its suitability and the editor-in-chief has the final say on whether a funding deal is accepted.”
The second is “paid for”. This is different, apparently:
“‘Paid content/paid for by’ is used to describe advertisement features that are paid for and controlled by the advertiser rather than the publisher and are subject to regulation by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Advertising Standards Bureau in Australia.”
You can see what they’re thinking. They don’t want actual features getting wrapped up in regulation. But is it that simple? Can content ever be truly free from interference if someone has paid for it? It’s tricky. For an idea of where the Guardian is coming from, take a look at this.
It is unlikely to make any difference to the ordinary reader. Especially as recent BBC research has shown that many people are happier to read content marketing provided it is clearly labelled as such.
Contently sets up in Europe
One last mention. Contently has hired a new general manager for its European office. You can read about it here. Nice to see it has gone for someone with a journalistic background, oh hang on…
Guardian reveals content labelling scheme is part of Content24, the online magazine for London content-marketing agency FirstWord.