EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Do Ads Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media

Jonathan Reuter and Eric Zitzewitz ()

Finance from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: We use mutual fund recommendations to test whether editorial content is independent from advertisers’ influence in the financial media. We find that major personal finance magazines (Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and SmartMoney) are more likely to recommend funds from families that have advertised within their pages in the past, controlling for fund characteristics like expenses, past returns and the overall levels of advertising. We find little evidence of a similar relationship for mentions in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Positive media mentions in both newspapers and magazines are associated with significant future inflows into the fund while advertising expenditures are not. Therefore, if we interpret our coefficients causally, a large share of the benefit of advertising in our sample of personal finance magazines comes via the apparent content bias. The welfare implications of this apparent bias are unclear, however, since our tests suggest that bias does not directly lead publications to recommend funds with significantly lower future returns than they might have recommended in the absence of any bias. In selecting funds to recommend, magazines overweight past returns relative to expenses, and as a group their recommendations do not outperform even an equal- weighted average of their peers. Nevertheless, this approach leaves magazines with large numbers of funds with high past returns from which to select, and so bias towards advertisers can be accommodated without significantly reducing readers’ future returns. Interestingly, the recommendations of Consumer Reports, which does not accept advertising, have future returns comparable to or below those of the publications which accept do advertising.

Keywords: mutual; fund; recommendations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G11 G23 L82 D83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 44 pages
Date: 2005-01-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-fin and nep-mic
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 44
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (29) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/fin/papers/0501/0501003.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Do Ads Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media (2006) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:wpa:wuwpfi:0501003

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Finance from University Library of Munich, Germany
Bibliographic data for series maintained by EconWPA ().

 
Page updated 2020-07-02
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpfi:0501003