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Condé Nast Enlists Web Edit Staff For Samsung Advertorial

Condé Nast is attempting to protect the traditional wall separating advertising from print editorial by having online-only staffers create an ad insert for Samsung. The six-page insert will run for eight months across Wired, Bon Appétit, Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveler, Architectural Digest and GQ. Unidentified sources told Mediaweek the use of web staffers was seen as a compromise and a way to avoid clashing with print editors who were considered averse to allowing their own staff work on an ad product.

The same sensitivities with regard to mixing advertising and editorial have been tested before by Condé Nast. For example, there didn’t appear to be any uproar a few years ago when the company’s online mag writers and editors were called upon to produce a special ad section for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT).

Using an online-only staff allows the magazines to fall within the stipulations set by the American Society of Magazine Editors that proscribe allowing advertisers to have the final word when it comes to editorial.

Condé Nast insisted that editors and writers had free reign to select and reject content for the Samsung insert. For now, it looks like the idea is keeping peace in the kingdom. But with print ad dollars still set to fall this year — Magna Global’s most recent forecast had the category down 4.2 percent, a considerable improvement over 2009’s 20 percent drop, but a decline nevertheless — the pressures to do more advertorial products in-house is only going to poke more holes in the bulwark between the ad side and edit.