Media Matters: Not all sponsored content is inherently evil

Advertising done right and wrong, and theories on Rachel Glucina's new celebrity gossip platform on NBR Radio and on demand on MyNBR Radio.

In this instalment of Media Matters, NBR Radio’s Jason Walls chats with Campbell Gibson and Nick Grant about the inner workings of New Zealand’s media industrial complex.

This week’s NBR print edition features an article from reporter Chelsea Armitage about US rules for undisclosed online advertising, an issue Mr Gibson says hasn’t really been addressed in New Zealand.

Here, the Advertising Standards Authority’s code of practice forbids personalities from promoting products without disclosing they have been paid but the ASA cannot act until it receives a complaint. To date, no-one has made one – possibly because of the undeclared, under-the-radar nature of such promotions.

In the US, however, the Federal Trade Commission has slammed online entertainment company Machinima for misleading advertising practices – specifically for paying two YouTube personalities a total of $US45,000 to create positive review videos for the Xbox One that masqueraded as independent opinion.

All content marketing is not created equal, though. Neither is it inherently evil, Mr Grant opines, pointing the relaunch of TV commentary website-turned pop culture website The Spinoff as an example of how publishers can create meaningful content while writing about their advertisers’ products.

Originally dedicated solely to writing about television and underpinned by sponsorship from Spark’s [NZX: SPK] video streaming product Lightbox, as of today The Spinoff has expanded its brief to include books (with sponsorship from Unity Books), politics, media, society and sport (with the hunt for sponsors for these categories is presumably ongoing).

Started by Duncan Grieve a year ago, with Alex Casey joining shortly after, the website now counts such prominent journalists Steve Braunias and Toby Manhire among its contributors, as well as writers such as Charlotte Grimshaw.

Finally, TV and radio operator MediaWorks has started promoting its joint venture with gossip columnist Rachel Glucina – Scout, a new “entertainment and celebrity news” website that launches on Monday.

Messrs Grant and Gibson reiterate their previously stated impression it will feature puff pieces about MediaWorks’ various vertically integrated ‘stars’ while dishing dirt on those employed by the company’s opposition.

Update re: The Spinoff: It appears the online publisher's sponsorship arrangements are more extensive than we first reported:

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