A UK news outlet, the Liverpool Echo, linked to a computer store’s products and earned commission if readers clicked through. But, it didn’t disclose that to readers, so that was a breach of advertising guidelines, the UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled.
iMediaEthics contacted the Echo‘s parent company, Reach PLC, to ask what changes the Echo has made to its practices after the ruling. A spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail, “We acknowledge the ASA’s ruling and have implemented procedures and policies to ensure we comply with it.”
The Echo‘s article, “Currys PC World launches its incredible Black Friday 2018 deals with £600 off TVs,” included links to several products on the Currys PC World website. A reader complained to the Advertising Standards Organisation, arguing other readers may be confused as to whether it was journalism or marketing.
In response, the Liverpool Echo‘s parent company Reach PLC said it was an actual editorial article but there was “an arrangement with a third-party affiliate marketer whereby if someone clicked a link to a third-party website in an article that the affiliate provided, and subsequently a purchase was made, Reach would make a commission based on that sale,” according to the ASA.
The Liverpool Echo denied Currys PC World was involved or that the marketing affiliate had any control over the article; however the Echo did review its practices to disclose affiliate links and unpublish the post in question, the ASA said.
The ASA, however, found the article was essentially an advertisement and that the Echo failed to properly label it, confusing readers to think it was editorial. Because of that, the Echo can’t publish the content in “its current form” again, and the ASA found the article broke advertising guidelines.
Hat Tip: Hold the Front Page