ASME Issues Editorial Guidelines for Native Ads

Says advertiser's role should be clear

Native advertising is all the rage as online publishers try to get more creative to get marketers’ dollars. But in doing so, some are trying to masquerade native ads as content, even using editorial staff to write the copy. Small wonder, then, that some editors are concerned that the line between editorial and advertising is getting blurry and the FCC is calling for guidelines for native advertising.

Now, the American Society of Magazine Editors has stepped in, calling for publishers to prominently disclose the marketer’s role in creating native advertising. The guidelines are voluntary and considered by some to be anachronistic, but continue to be widely viewed as the industry standard.

ASME CEO Sid Holt said editors have been asking for guidance in the use of the trendy ad format.

“This form of advertising is relatively new,” he said. “They were asking, is this an acceptable form of advertising, how are we going to distinguish it.”

The change is in section D2 of Best Practices for Digital Media in the editorial guidelines, which can be found here. Over the years, ASME has updated its guidelines to keep pace with the growth of digital media and their increasing willingness to accept different types of ads.

In revising the guidelines, Holt mentioned The New Yorker and Atlantic as two publications he used as models. Yes, the Atlantic, whose controversial Scientology ad became the proverbial example of native gone wrong. Holt said that the guidelines the Atlantic created in the aftermath of the controversy are a model for others to follow, though.

“When we looked at who was doing it well, we modeled this on what the Atlantic and The New Yorker were doing, because they made it perfectly clear,” he said. “Are there magazines that could be doing it better? Probably. We’re all finding our way on how to treat it.”