Survey: 48.9% of Marketing Execs Have Paid for Placement in Content

Half of Those Who Haven't Say They Would If Given the Chance

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Something's rotten with the state of media. Nearly half -- 48.9% -- of senior marketing executives admit to paying for editorial or broadcast brand placement, according to an industrywide survey just released by PRWeek and PR agency Manning Selvage & Lee.
Lax journalism standards may be harming the image of the media, said Mark Hass of Manning Selvage & Lee. | ALSO: Comment on this story in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
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Willing to pay
What's more, the survey of 266 chief marketing officers, marketing VPs and directors found that half of those who haven't paid for placement said they would if the opportunity arose.

"This type of behavior is as harmful to PR professionals as it is to consumers and the media," said Mark Hass, CEO of the Publicis Groupe-owned public-relations agency.

Losing faith
While the publishers mixing editorial and advertising most likely are consumer-product glossies, Mr. Hass said he strongly believes their lax standards harm the image of media in general. "When people see the erosion of concepts like objectivity, they start to lose faith in any organization claiming to be objective."

Of respondents who said they wouldn't consider paying for editorial or broadcast placements, just 43% said they didn't feel it was ethical. Nearly a third, 32.4%, said they are not convinced of the efficacy of editorial or broadcast placements, while 21.6% said they preferred advertising and editorial content to be more distinct.

Appalled by findings
Media experts found the survey's findings appalling. "I think there is a very short life span for publishers with no standards," said Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

And, apparently, such standards are no secret to consumers. Indeed, a study done in October 2005 by MS&L's sibling media agency Starcom MediaVest found that 65% of consumers thought editorial mentions of a product had been paid for.
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