The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) has unveiled new guidelines about magazine websites, augmenting its longstanding print guidelines for publishers and editors. According to a story in Adweek, the new guidelines have the same spirit as print, but deal with specific areas of concern such as product placement, paid links and interruptive advertising. The revised print guidelines were released in October.
“The overriding principle is still the same—the user has to be able to distinguish ads from edit,” said Eric Schurenberg, editor in chief of the CBS Interactive Business Network, who consulted with editors and publishers in spearheading the new guidelines. “We don’t want to stand in the way of innovation, but [want to] make it clear who’s in charge.”
The addition of the web guidelines to the print now offers a comprehensive list of best practices which will probably be observed by most, but sniffed at by some. The guidelines are voluntary and sanctions are stern warning letters and possible exclusion from the ASME-run National Magazine Awards.
The new guidelines say paid or sponsored links should be identified as such; Web sites should not promote products in exchange for advertising; and sponsored microsites should be visually distinct from the main Web site. A section on interruptive advertising says such ads should be subject to editorial approval. ASME wants such ads to have a prominent “close” or “skip” button and last no more than 10 seconds.The new guidelines include a section on tablet versions of magazines, attempting to ensure that ads alook different from editorial pages to avoid confusing the two, since tablets' ads often aren’t displayed opposite editorial the way they are in print.
ASME also gets into the burgeoning area of social media. Marketing messages shouldn’t be integrated with editorial content, while bloggers should disclose commercial ties they have with an advertiser or marketer, reflecting new FTC rules aimed at the blogosphere, the organization says.
The Canadian magazine industry's advertising-editorial guidelines were recently revised, with the suggestion that similar guidelines would also soon be developed for web applications.