The "Chinese Wall" Is Crumbling

The other day I suggested that bloggers need a “Chinese Wall” to separate their editorial and commercial interests, in order to avoid perceived (or actual) conflicts of interest. Here’s a memo from the world of Old Media — the trusty wall is crumbling under the weight of “product placement” (or the more insidious “product integration”), which is the strategy du jour for overcoming the TiVo-ing of the 30-second spot:

There is no standard model for placements; in some cases, story lines involving a specific product are pitched to a relevant company that can then buy its product’s way into the scene; in other cases, companies suggest their products for a show. One Los Angeles broker has set up a matchmaking website so potential partners can find one another. Another company has specialized in digitally inserting brands into films and shows, allowing entertainment companies to sell the same space several times: On one film, for instance, one advertiser appeared in theaters, another on network television, another on basic cable and still another on DVD.

The barbarians are at the gates — Old Media companies have profit pressures that are forcing the gates open. Since most of New Media isn’t making much money yet, perhaps they will hold the line on “editorial standards” while Old Media caves (at least until New Media finds its own profit motive).