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Don’t label Ukrainian: who orders commercial jeansa in the media. IMI research

21.12.2021, 13:39

We often raise the issue of media liability for placing incorrectly labeled or even hidden advertising. And sometimes, we mention commercial companies, PR agencies, which order such an advertising. Some media manage to defend their positions and draw red lines. To others the conditions are imposed by customers, and fearing not to stay afloat, the editors agree to place jeansa. We decided to delve into the issue, to see to what extent Ukrainian business could be called socially responsible, ie ready to label its advertising honestly and transparently. 

According to IMI monitoring, commercial jeansa account for an average of 57 to 61 % of the total number of materials with signs of order. Interestingly, over the past year, one of the largest shares of orders in the media was related to the business interests of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Thus, during the second quarter of 2021, percent of such news has almost doubled and accounted for 16.3% of the total number of news with signs of order. Within the third quarter, Akhmetov's percent of jeansa rose to 20.8% and became the largest compared to all jeansa customers in online media. A separate text will be delve into "Akhmetov's" jeansa, but here, we will focus on not so important commercial customers.

The monitoring covered ten popular Ukrainian media, which were selected based on the results of IMI monitoring of the ordered materials. The sample included all news items that had signs of order (jeansa and incorrect labeling), from 4 to 8 October 2021 * inclusive.

How do the media label custom textes?

One third of the materials (31%) that promoted business in the media were marked with improper labeling. Most often, such materials are placed under sections of "Press Release", "Company News", "Hot Topic". Such labeling is not always intelligible for the audience, and sometimes the news are made up on the page so that the section "Company News" is almost invisible due to dim colors. In addition to the visual nuances of such labeling, there are ethical and legal features.

For the most part, the advertisers have several options for placing their ad texts: 

-marked "Advertising" (according to the law); 

-with improper labeling "Hot Topic", "Special Project", "Company News" (which is a violation of the law);

-without any markings (pretending to be a journalistic piece written according to journalistic standards). This is also a violation of the law.

For an advertiser, the only difference between these options is the price. An unmarked advertisement should raise the question of the future client : should I trust and invest in this business, if he does not respect me from the very beginning and cynically induces me? It is worth remembering the ethics of interaction between business and future customers. 

If we talk about the legal aspect, then advertisement and advertising pieces should be clearly separated from other information and marked "Advertising" or "Promoted content". This is said in the Law of Ukraine  "On Advertising" (Article 9). So, any attempt to enter advertising text in the "Press Release" or "Special Project" section is a deliberate violation of the law. If the media and advertisers have doubts about how to label advertising materials, they need to read lawyers’ explanations.  

In the Ukrainian media, mostly all branches of business are represented: from sausages to Mykhailo Poplavsky, from helminthicides, to advertising gambling cashback. However, as the results of the study evidenced, the properly labeled as "Advertising" texts depend on the size of the company and how seriously the company views one’s relationship with a potential customer.

During the monitoring period, most commercial stories with signs of ordering dealt with medical issues and health - 20.7% of the total number of texts included in the monitoring.

Every seventh news item was improperly labeled, all the others did not have any. Most often, medical news with jeansa attributes were published by Segodnya, TSN and Channel 24.

The news from this group can be divided into three topics: medical centers, medicines and bloggers who write about health.

Most often, medical centers place their advertising texts on Interfax-Ukraine:

How to quickly and effectively get rid of drug addiction in Kiev / TSN

Dobrobut Medical Network resumes operation of one of the hospitals for COVID-19 patients / Interfax-Ukraine

Adonis Medical Company has started to develop a franchise network / Interfax-Ukraine

Instagram bloggers intensively cooperate in the domain of advertisement with Ukrainian media also. Doctors, nutritionists and fitness coaches promote their accounts through the media. For example, in an advertising text, bloggers offer to solve a beauty problem or simply share some useful or psychological advice. At the end, such material contains a link to the blogger's Instagram page.

How to lose weight correctly and healthy in autumn / Channel 24

Magic sexy buttons - myth or truth? / TSN

How to counter autumn depression / Channel 24

How to properly brew rose hips, so as not to lose its benefits / TSN

How to use nutritional supplements to maintain the mood of one’s worms, such advice were made in the materials related to medicines. Of course, in the title itself, no one warns that this was an advertising or "self-medication is harmful to your health." "Scout" material about ecology suddenly ends with you playing a garbage sorting game developed by a pharmaceutical company. 

Coping with stress or learning to sort it: 5 recommendations of a practicing psychologist / TSN

Fresh vegetables and green stuff from garden: the danger comes not from nitrates / Channel 24

Women are increasingly having problems with thyroid gland: how to prevent disease / Channel 24

7.8% of news items with signs of a commercial order were related to telecommunications and communications. Simply put, the media often advertised mobile operators and ISPs. The leader in the number of mentions was the mobile operator Kyivstar, which during the monitoring period placed advertisements with an improper labeling "Special project". These materials advertised the company's new projects, which were not related to mobile communication services. These projects were socially oriented, like caring for older people, financial literacy for school pupils, or marketing lectures for all. 

On the International day of the older persons, Ukrainian business unites against digital inequality / Interfax-Ukraine

The first business camp for schoolchildren starts in Ukraine / Interfax-Ukraine

Personalized marketing: Kyivstar invites you to a free webinar  / Channel 24

In addition to Kyivstar, online TV and Internet service providers posted materials to promote their business:

Ambitious update of the cinema hall on SWEET.TV: 100+ films from Disney, Paramount and Sony / Interfax-Ukraine

OLL.TV has launched new platform  / 24 channel

Nothing in excess, only top movies, TV series and shows: how Volia TV makes life easier for subscribers / Obozrevatel

Volia has completely abandoned the services of repossession men’ services / Obozrevatel

5.6% of the news were related to show business. The leader in the number of mentions was Mykhailo Poplavsky, who actively promoted his TikTok department. Previously, we wrote that Poplavsky has been actively clickabaiting followers on his Instagram for the whole of 2021 and making a draw for subscribing to his account. Poplavsky's PR people thought not only of give away benefits, but they were actively ordering jeansa to promote Poplavsky's account and brand man. The following news was published by nine of the ten media included in the monitoring. Improperly marked custom pieces about Poplavsky were:

Mykhailo Poplavsky: TikTok is space! / Interfax-Ukraine

Mykhailo Poplavsky: TikTok is space! / "Gordon "

Mykhailo Poplavsky: TikTok is space! / TSN

Mykhailo Poplavsky: TikTok is space! / UNIAN

However, the same news was placed on other media, but not marked anyhow: Politeka , 24 channel RBC-UkraineObozrevatel.

Gas distribution services were also actively promoted in the Ukrainian media : 5.6% of mentions of the total number of news items included in the monitoring. The press services of these JSCs most often place advertising / image materials on RBC-Ukraine. Such news items are easily traced under hashtag #gas. During the monitoring period, advertising materials were recorded on Interfax-Ukraine and RBC-Ukraine. However, they were posted on Interfax with improper “Press Release” markings, and on RBC Ukraine the news had any markings. 

RGC Production gas equipment successfully tested by hydrogen at the landfill of JSC Ivano-FrankivskGas

Sumygaz specialists organized periodic verification of over 32,000 gas meters for Sumy region households

This year, specialists of JSC Zaporizhgaz have implemented several projects for the reconstruction of gas networks

The same news items on RBC-Ukraine had n labeling:

For the first time the program of hydrogen tests passed the gas equipment of the Ukrainian production / RBC-Ukraine

Sumygaz specialists organized periodic verification of more than 32,000 meters / RBC-Ukraine

This year, Zaporozhgaz has implemented several projects for the reconstruction of gas networks / RBC-Ukraine

It seems that each edition decides separately whether to put markings on the material or not. RBC-Ukraine also has well-labeled news items, but this never applies to materials about regional gas companies.

As for the gambling business , such advertising texts accounted for 5% of the total number of materials. Texts on this topic began to appear more often in the media, as in August 2020 a law came into force in Ukraine legalizing the gambling business. It has become legal to organize gambling online or offline in special institutions. In particular, bookmaking, poker and slot machine halls were legalized. Already in 2021, the gambling business got expensive licenses from the state to be able to operate. At the same time, aggressive marketing from "gambling businesses" is appearing in the media: bright banners, windows that pop up on top of the news, separate sections and ordered materials. For example, sections dedicated to gambling appeared on the websites of Channel 24 and Segodnya.

The difference between these sites is that on Channel 24, PokerMatch promotional materials are labeled. But on the Segodnya website, the materials had all the hallmarks of jeansa.

Poker in Kiev will be held at the club Full House Khreschatyk  / "Today"

Live Poker Festival in the capital: Kyiv prepares for large-scale offline tournaments - Poker / Channel 24

The gambling business of Ukraine is ready to enrich the treasury / Channel 24

Stanislav Galatenko is three-time champion and leader of the Ukrainian Cup of online poker / Channel 24

Advertisers also placed jeansa on food and alcohol: 5% of the total amount of news items. In addition to large food corporations, such as McDonald's or MHP (Nasha Ryaba), there have been some mentions of a business just starting on the market.  

Pizza from Dzizio 2021 - what does it taste like and how much does it cost / Segodnya

Kiev residents got offered high-quality food delivery - VIP CATERING FOOD BOX / Obozrevatel

Another example is that alcohol cannot be advertised in the media. However, PR people decided not to mention the drink itself, but the brand of alcohol. So, the newsmaker was that ordinary workers of the Tavria plant were like "Hollywood stars" and hung on the banner of the Pedestrian Bridge in Kyiv. 

Workers of the Tavriya distillery from Kherson were honored as Hollywood stars  / TSN

In 4.5% of the materials were references to the logistics business. Among such materials there were mentions of Nova Poshta and TEDIS Ukraine, which tried to represent its brand as an “employer leader”. In fact, it was not clear from the material what exactly this company was doing. This material was placed with improper labeling:

TEDIS Ukraine among the best employers in the country / Interfax-Ukraine

TEDIS Ukraine among the best employers in the country / Channel 24 

As for Nova Poshta, some media outlets included in the monitoring period published material from the press service regarding the opening of Nova Poshta's own airline with the following paragraph: “Nova Poshta  Group operates in compliance with all norms of Ukrainian legislation. In 2020, the Group transferred UAH 5 billion in taxes and fees to the country's budget.”

Regarding the real estate market, there were 4.5% of ordered materials on this topicFor the most part, this was the image advertising about developers. Of course, without any labeling saying that it was an advertising, but holding forth abot bright perspective of the business itself.

Intergal-Bud is the most recognizable brand among Kyiv developers

Young artists painted the perfect house for the whole family

Automation in the real estate market: as a well-known developer simplifies the purchase of housing 

Kushnir: the real estate market has significantly revived, sales of Kyivmiskbud inspire optimism 

4.5% of materials we have recorded were about banking and financial institutions. Today, banks are trying to entice customers with advice on long-term loans, like ProCredit. Or are invited to play tennis for free, but only UKRSIBBANK customers. And from Alfabank reported that Badoev was engaged in their advertising communications. The audience was also informed about the new payment system "Leo", which was presented by Yushchenko. However, PR people forgot to agree with the media on proper labeling and say that it is advertising. The same headline and text roamed from media to media:

Fintech industry is becoming a driver of the Ukrainian economy - Yushchenko / UNIAN

Fintech industry becomes a driver of the Ukrainian economy, - Yushchenko / Obozrevatel

3.9% of the ordered materials were related to the car business. The media published commissioned materials about taxi services, car rental companies and jeansa from auto parts stores. There were also isolated advertising materials about fashion, insurance, hardware stores and construction business, education.

***

In this study, we analyzed ten most popular media. However, the problem with labeling is many times greater in those media that publish manipulative and low-quality content. IMI analysts conducted a separate study in April 2021 ** in 20 media and found that most businesses placed their advertising materials in the following media: ukranews.com (13.2%), unn.com.ua (12.9%), bahnet.org (8.8%), tsn.ua and korrespondent.net (8.5% each), politeka.net (8.1%). At the same time, the fewest commercial advertising texts were recorded on the sites vgolos.com.ua (1%), Strana.ua and antikor.com.ua (0.7% each), telegraf.com.ua (0.3%). This indicates that business is more willing to go to those media that do not have a bright political color. 

Regarding the labeling of advertising, only 6.8% of such materials were placed in accordance with the law with the "Advertising" mark. 18.3% of the materials were improperly marked, and the other 74.9% of the materials were not marked at all. The monitoring showed that only three out of twenty media labeled advertising materials with the word “Advertising”: “Korrespondent”, “Strana” and “KP in Ukraine”. In April, the most active correct labeling "Advertising" was used by the "Korrespondent" - 80% of the total number of materials with "Advertising" label.

* Monitoring was conducted on October 4-8, 2021 in 10 popular Internet media, which were selected on the basis of Similarweb data and IMI monitoring: "Politeka", "Obozrevatel", Channel 24, "Gordon", "Segodnya", TSN, RBC. ua, Interfax-Ukraine, "Censor", UNIAN. A total of 184 materials that had signs of ordering and / or improper labeling were analyzed.

** Monitoring took place from March 22 to March 31, 2021 inclusive. A total of 295 materials that had signs of ordering or labeling "Advertising" were analyzed. The following media were monitored: Ukranews.com, UNNBagnet.org, Tsn.ua, Korrespondent.net, Politeka.net, Znaj.ua, Hvylya.net, Kp.ua, Apostrophe.ua, Podrobnosti.ua, Glavcom.ua, vesti .ua, golos.ua, from-ua.com, Comments.ua, vgolos.com.ua, Strana.ua, antikor.com.ua, telegraf.com.ua

The writing of this material was made possible by the support of the American people, which was provided through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine project, which is implemented by the international organization Internews. The content  is under the sole responsibility of the Institute of Mass Information does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or Internews

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