Spotting the disguises and masquerades

Steve Dix (School of Marketing, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia)
Ian Phau (School of Marketing, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Publication date: 8 May 2009



The purpose of this paper is to compare the perceptions of agencies, advertisers, and media consumers on the blurring practices commonly used to confuse editorial and advertising.


A self‐administered questionnaire was mailed out to three sample groups, namely advertisers, agencies, and media consumers: 100 questionnaires were mailed to advertisers, 400 to agencies and 1,000 to media consumers. The response rate by group was 10, 11.75, and 24.5 percent, respectively.


The findings did not substantiate the concerns that blurring practices are misleading to stakeholders in the industry. Advertisers in particular showed positive attitudes towards blurring practices. It is also revealed that there are few significant differences in the attitudes towards regulation of blurring practices among the three sample groups. However, there are differences in perception across sample groups towards the various types of blurring practices.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations to the paper include the differences in time frame, market size, as well as location from which the samples were drawn. Future research could investigate media executives. Furthermore, the paper is only a snapshot across different blurring practices. Potentially, a specific blurring practice could be monitored over time to provide deeper insights.

Practical implications

The results of this paper offer both advertisers and agencies a guide to shifts in the perceived role of advertising blurring practices across a 15 year period. Moreover, it also provides advertising stakeholders with a consumers' view of such blurring practices, highlighting the extent and direction to which consumers deviate from the industry perspective. Such insights offer a useful yardstick to assist advertising decision makers on the relevance of using a blurred advertising approach as a strategic or tactical advertising initiative.


With its replication and extension focus, the restricted originality in this paper is compensated by its comparative insights into advertising blurring practices among advertising stakeholders.



Dix, S. and Phau, I. (2009), "Spotting the disguises and masquerades", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 413-427.

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