Integrated advertising is a form of advertising in which the product or service featured is used within the context of another form of media, rather than simply appearing as an advertisement. This can take a number of different forms, and can be used in print formats such as newspapers and magazines, television and film, and digital formats such as Internet websites. Essentially, these advertisements appear as part of the media around them, rather than as clearly defined advertisements that can more easily be ignored. Integrated advertising has been criticized by some customers and advertisers as being too intrusive, while others see it as a more subtle form of advertising.
The essential component of integrated advertising, in any media, is that the advertisement initially appears as part of the surrounding media. One simple example of such advertising is product placement in films and television programs. A character in a movie, television show, or even music video may be drinking a particular brand of soda, using a certain mobile telephone or computer, or wearing clothing that clearly shows the brand label. This type of integrated advertising may be quite subtle in some instances, while other uses of product placement can be obvious and even intrusive for some viewers.
Integrated advertising in print formats can be somewhat more subtle. Magazines and newspapers may include advertisements that initially appear to be part of the surrounding text, such as an advertisement that is formatted to appear like the articles around it. Such advertisements often include text stating that it is an advertisement, and not an article or editorial, but the initial impression on a reader is that the advertisement is an article. Integrated advertising in print can also take a form similar to product placement and include editorials, sometimes called “advertorials,” in which the commenter endorses or suggests a particular product.
The digital and interactive format of the Internet is a perfect environment for integrated advertising. Such advertisements eschew the common form of pop-ups or banner advertisements, and instead incorporate the advertisement into the layout of the web page. This can include everything from paid advertisements coming up in the results of a search engine to advertisements that appear within the body text of a webpage. Critics of integrated advertising often claim that such advertisements are deceptive in nature, since they often appear to be content rather than commercial at first glance. Those in favor of such advertisements, however, insist that such advertisements are visually less offensive for readers or viewers, and are ultimately more effective than traditional methods.