21/09/2012 08:56

The truth seekers of a giant Catholic social network

A new Catholic communications giant has come on the scene.

Andrea Salvati and Fr. Paolo Padrini speak to Vatican Insider about it.

By Domenico Agasso Jr.

“Aleteia” and “Adethic”: Two brand new additions have been officially made to the online and international Catholic world. The new Catholic communication project was launched in Rome backed by the Foundation for Evangelization through the Media (FEM).

Aleteia (the Greek word for “truth”), has been defined as the first Catholic social network for sharing, dialogue and global analysis of issues relating to faith, life and society “for seekers of the truth” (www.aleteia.org); Aleteia comprises Adethic (www.adethic.net), “a new online advertising network, that provides an ethical service for the Catholic and lay world. It is a network that, through online advertising reaching both Catholics - who can finally avail themselves of a controlled environment that also offers the chance to generate income to support charitable initiatives - and lay people, is seeking to revolutionise the concept of advertising. Indeed, the goal is to shift advertising away from profit towards building values and a sense of solidarity.” The network is coordinated and monitored by an international ethics committee.

Two of the brains behind the initiative explain all in a double interview with Vatican Insider. Andrea Salvati is Director General of Aleteia and Adethic, having been in charge of Google Italy for 6 years. Fr. Paolo Padrini is the creator of the iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta (the first official Catholic prayer application for smartphones and tablets) and director of Adethic’s ethical committee.

Mr. Salvati, how is this project structured?

“Aleteia is a digital network that is already made up of approximately one thousand partners, including media and Catholic institutions: the aim of this network is to strengthen Catholic presence as well as the presence of Catholic websites on the web. The network will add visibility and user interactivity. The idea behind Fr. Padrini and the other founders’ initiative is to do something different even in the field of advertising. The result is Adethic: a group of Catholic professionals specialising in digital communication and advertising, whose aim it is to help generate revenue for Catholic sites that join the network. There are 13 thousand Catholic websites in Italy alone (we are testing out the pilot project in Italy first but will expand to the rest of the world): all these websites will be able to join Adethic by simply giving the network access to their audiences for the collection of quality, targeted, suitable and above all filtered advertising, in order to help individual websites to gain more resources for their charitable initiatives.

So part of the advertising revenue will be distributed across the websites that form part of the Adethic network?

“Exactly: by joining this network they will receive part of the revenue gained from advertising. It is a new way of supporting and boosting these websites. This is what makes the project innovative.”

What is the fundamental and original element of this initiative?

“Its ethicality: we are not an ordinary advertising agency, but a network that represents already existing websites through commercial marketing which aims to generate profit, a significant part of which will go to charitable and solidarity initiatives selected by the Ethics Committee, chaired by Fr. Padrini. Ours is a tangible project that involves websites joining our network: this is why we are inviting all Catholic partners to join the network as it has the potential to attract 8 million Catholics each month, which accounts for about 30% of total internet users.”

Fr. Padrini, what are the aspects of this initiative that you appreciate the most?

“The huge opportunity it represents for the Catholic world as a whole, because we are creating a communication bridge between the market – which needs more values that we provide through the ethical nature of the project – and the Catholic world which represents new terrain from a web advertising point of view. This is because of the fear of being invaded by adverts that are not compatible with Catholic values and the mission of various religious entities; this world will be able to open up to current market trends, which now focus on online advertising, from a network perspective (“network” is one of the words I wish to highlight). This has been made possible through the Aleteia network within which Adethic operates. Another core aspect is the revolutionary nature of this advertising venture. An advertising revolution takes place when you go from advertising to create a profit, with profit being the end purpose, to a type of advertising whose profits go to the websites within the network. They then reinvest this revenue as they see fit, producing a wealth that benefits charity, solidarity and evangelisation thanks to the social monitoring that takes place as part of the ethical committee’s “Web 2.0” philosophy.”

But will all this just concern the Catholic world?

“No: I dare say that this will be an open and universal initiative and not just limited to the Catholic world. WE believe that even lay editors may wish to benefit from quality content on the internet and non Catholic advertisers may wish to see their content published in a filtered context that reflects certain values. Through this market action they create a network, benefiting solidarity and the Gospel whose message should also be reflected in the market.” (vaticaninsider.la stampa.it - 09/20/2012)