The ads, which touted Derrie-Air as "the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline" and claimed to charge passengers by the pound, was designed to test ad's click-through rates. The Derrie-Air advertisements drew in a 1.25% "click-through" rate for the online version, compared to the national click-through average of 0.05%.
Some in the journalism community have raised concerns over how the ads may adversely affect the papers' credibility.
"Anytime you deceive your audience, you run the risk of compromising their ability to trust you," said Kelly McBride, Poynter ethics group leader.
"Market research is a good goal in terms of understanding how advertising is going to work in this era," she continued. "I wonder if there is a way to do that that doesn't deceive the audience. Is there something you could create that could measure responses without tricking the audience?"
Clint Brewer, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and executive editor of The City Paper in Nashville, Tenn., worried that a false ad might spark distrust in the news product. "My concern would be, given how thirsty the public is for affordable air travel, if readers were to be miffed about this being false, would they then transfer those feelings to the news side of the papers?" he said. "I would be concerned if I was in those newsrooms."
Source: Editor & Publisher