It looks like editorial copy, but it's not

The State, in Columbia, S.C., used poor judgment in mixing editorial teases and promotional copy on its home page over the past few days:

Near the top of The State's home page is this text: 'EZPay -- Sign up for EZPay today! A service for new or renewing subscribers.' This circulation department promo has an identical design to the two editorial department teases right next to it.

Online ads already use distracting colors, animation and DHTML effects, but The State has found a new low — using a space designed expressly for editorial copy for a house ad. This deception is almost as bad as those Web banner ads that look like dialog boxes. In print, advertorial content is labeled with that magic word, “ADVERTISEMENT,” and news sites need to avoid deception online as well.

Maybe someone at The State thought that since this was a house ad rather than a paid ad, it wasn’t as big a deal. Perhaps so, but that misses the point. Readers expect editorial content in that specific space. They do not expect photos of your dog, cell phone ringtones or John Deere tractors there. Nor do they expect paid advertising or self-promotion.

I’ll take my vindication in the fact that clicking their links for new or renewing subscribers brings up an SSL certificate security warning. What a smart e-commerce technique!

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This page last modified on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 4:14 am