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Advertisements in Magazines

Advertisements in Magazines

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Content from advertisers that resembles editorial coverage, commonly called native advertising, is drawing heightened scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. Which wants to establish guidelines for labeling it clearly. Now Shape magazine has drawn a rebuke for such content from advertising regulators for an unusual case in which it served as both publisher and advertiser.

In the September issue of Shape, a full-page article carried the headline “Water works!” under the heading of “News.” After citing many studies espousing hydration, and a warning from the Center for Science in the Public Interest against high-calorie sugary drinks. The non-bylined article said that about 20 percent of Americans did not like the taste of water.

Promoting its own Products, a Magazine Labels an Ad as News

Promoting its own Products, a Magazine Labels an Ad as News

“If that sounds like you, check out the new Shape Water Boosters,” the article reads. “Just a single squeeze (equal to a half-teaspoon) adds delicious flavor — but not calories  along with a concentrated punch of nutrients that offer some important bonus benefits.” Accompanying the article are photos of all four varieties of the product. Named for those promised benefits: Beauty, Wellness, Slim and Energy.

The study was conducted by the National Advertising Division, the research arm of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system and under the Better Business Bureau. “The shape has blurred the line between advertising and editorial content in a way that confuses consumers,” the agency said in a ruling issued last week.

The order said there was no need to disclose the advertisement because there was a clear link between the two. But, he added, “It’s ridiculous that our products stand situated featured in the same editorial content as others.”

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However, even if readers concluded that Shape endorsed a product that it also sells, the ruling overruled the news label. And readers were given “a different weight in editorial context than in recommendations in the context of advertising.” According to the ruling, the company must “clearly indicate that the content is an advertisement” when promoting products in its publications.

On Monday, the article remained on Shape’s website, but without the “News” headline and signed “From the Shape editors.” Laura Brett, a staff attorney for the department, said when she noticed an online article Monday, “It doesn’t comply with our regulations and that Shape still advertises its products in editorial articles.” Eric Klee, vice president and spokesman for American Media, Inc., publisher of

The shape did not respond to a request for comment on Monday for this article, which was removed from the site later that day. American Media properties include publications such as the National Enquirer, Star, Soap Opera Digest. And Men’s Fitness According to the Association of Magazine Media. Shape’s advertising revenue in 2013 was up 13.4% year over year. % up to $191.4 million.


Most glossy magazines display ads that reflect the theme of their publication. Magazine advertising is the ads that people see placed throughout publications. Starting up or maintaining a magazine is dependent on a few factors, but one of the most important is advertising.

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