Monday, November 30, 2015

Is getting on to the BBC.COM Homepage an advertorial coup for China?

BBC's Techtent programme on BBC World Service had a short item last week on the challenges facing the funding of journalism. Rory Cellan Jones interviewed the CEO of Blendle in the Netherlands. They also explained about Native Advertising, where adverts are written in the style of editorial content. They may be labelled "advertisement" but this advertorial content is designed to make you think it is editorial, not a banner ad. In this case you are invited to "Explore More about the Climate Conference". Is it labelled as Xinhua content? Yes it is. Do most people understand the difference? I wonder.

In the UK, many people don't realise that the BBC's international facing pages are loaded with native advertising and strange magazines like BBC Capital or BBC Autos, not available to UK readers, which have sponsoring opportunities. It's all laid out in the advertising opportunities.

I think they can do what they like with the magazines - but they should stay away from the news pages. The case in point is visible today. I call up the BBC news page where the headline is the climate talks in Paris. Underneath is the piece of native advertising from Xinhua, the Chinese government news agency. Would the Chinese government allow a reciprocal piece on CCTV's website? I rather think not. Since these "ads" are inserted automatically, I would be surprised if the London newsroom knew it was happening. For me, I think this sort of thing really damages the trust I have in the Beeb. Especially when they have not explored subscription alternatives.

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