CBC: ‘Branded Content: Blurring the line between editorial & advertorial’


It’s getting more and more difficult to find reliable news sources that are willing to cover hard news regardless of entertainment value.

The Current is a CBC Radio program that describes itself as,

“A meeting place of perspectives, ideas and voices, with a fresh take on issues that affect Canadians today. Our team of journalists–based in every major region of the country–think locally and globally. We bring new insight to stories that Canadians are talking about now, and we uncover stories they’ll be talking about next week and next year.”

CBC radio - the current

On March 27, they aired an episode called, Branded Content: Blurring the line between editorial & advertorial.
The show featured a panel consisting of  David Folkenflik, the Media Reporter with National Public Radio and Sabaa Quao,Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Journal.

Host of The Current on CBC radio, Anna Maria Tremonti opens the podcast by saying,

“Is it new Journalism? Or just clever PR? Digital information sites and even online portions of traditional news organizations are increasingly seduced by something called Sponsored Content or Brand Content or Native Content, essentially stories commissioned by companies or advertisers designed to blend seamlessly into real news content. It can be lucrative but does it blur the lines with legitimate journalism? And what does it do to the quest for hard credible information?”

“The Washington Post launched BrandConnect earlier this month which lets marketers create branded content throughout their website.”

But what is the big difference between regular advertising and branded content?

Folkenflik says,

“For every person who opens a newspaper, an advertiser will pay 16 times as much as every person who encounters a webpage advertisement. So people are desperate to figure out ways to make advertising look more credible. And the way that they are doing that is by loaning the credibility of the news organizations through branded content. I’m not 100% sure that it’s a terrible thing, there can be content people enjoy.”

The main issue that arose among the panel concerning this branded content, was whether you could tell it apart from the actual news in the paper or on the website. If the reader is aware of what context and by whom their information is being provided from, they are usually more willing to build trust with that organization. Many approaches to using branded content have emerged such as blatantly telling the reader that the content is sponsored, subtly telling the reader who has paid for the content, and not telling the reader at all.

Journalism usually tries to tell the whole story but this is not the case within advertorials or branded content that will inevitably try to gloss over certain facts and exaggerate others.

With conventional models of news providing and advertising not receiving the same amount of interest they once would have, some might argue that this is the logical route to take to continue surviving as a competitive industry.


If you are interested in this subject check out another post on my blog that talks about advertorials and sponsored content: The Future of Journalism.

2 thoughts on “CBC: ‘Branded Content: Blurring the line between editorial & advertorial’

    • Thanks for commenting Danielle!
      Any posts you recommend I read from your blog?

      Given the direction things are headed with trying to monetize digital media, I suspect they will have to unless they find another source of revenue.

      The important thing is making sure there is enough of a difference between advertorials and the regular articles so that the reader can tell them apart without putting in too much effort.

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