20 Replies to “Not Buying It! Sponsored Media = Advertising”

  1. Trust, viginity…lose them and there’s no getting them back. Okay, a lot of resources and a good campaign may result in a noteworthy comeback, if you’re, say, Nixon. Assuming most of aren’t that intriguing, the old blunt rule of thumb still stands. If someone’s paying you to promote their product, you’re producing promotional material. If you don’t stamp it as such, sooner or later you’re toast. It’s quite clear.

  2. Agree with you Geoff and backup Marcs point, why would I have an interest in an article that someone was paid to write as an ad?

    A blog to me is an open sharing of that bloggers thoughts, and monetary influence is likely to skew that. Knowing this was the case ahead of time will not increase the likelihood that I will have an interest.

  3. Geoff, thanks for keeping this in the spotlight. Remember the MSM division between “editorial” and “advertising?” This is just a Web 2.0 retweet. Word of mouth≠cash payment, and each person is guardian of his/her integrity. No one can have it both ways: if you are paid, sorry, I don’t believe you as much because you are no longer saying it (only) because you believe in it. I hope that all people who play with this realize that if we (collectively) destroy word of mouth by discrediting it, we will have lost more than anything that we could have possibly gained. Many bloggers will discredit themselves by leveraging their WOM cachet into quick cash, minimizing their disclosure. The irony is, all they are showing is lack of creativity and courage. Put it behind a boundary and disclose very openly. There’s no such thing as a little cheating, the ultimate slippery slope.

  4. I have a problem with the majority of the “pay-per-tweet/blog” programs out there– but only on one side of coin– those brands that are actually paying the bills. To me, this issue gets blurry when talking about celebrities. Apparently, Kim Kardashian commands about 10K per tweet, and I’m not sure how that differs from an appearance on talk show plugging a product, skin care line, or upcoming movie. There’s not really a “disclosure” in those types of appearances, so I think we might have a problem in the social context…which many of us still hold to be somewhat sacred. I’m just not sure there’s much that can be done– except for consumers to get smarter about filtering out what are just cleverly disguised marketing messages. Lonelygirl15 anyone?

  5. Great post Geoff. Sponsored social content could degrade trust if not transparent or poorly executed.

    But I’m curious what you think of services like NewsForce or ARA’s AdFusion? They syndicate content to MSM as either advertorial or sponsored editorial and seem to be doing well.

  6. Lee: I think it’s inevitable. We see this with top blogs already, and it plays off already accepted paradigms in traditional media. The blatant full disclosure helps, but in reality, you always sacrifice trust when you bring advertising in. It’s a balancing act one has to maintain in any kind of publishing business, from the NY Times to IZEA bloggers.

  7. Love the timing of this and I’m going to tie into something else. I follow and read people that I trust and respect, because they have earned my trust and respect. Why in the hell would I want to read a paid post? It’s skewed from the outset. It’s just a very long advertisement at that point from a blogger. Disclosure or not it flies in the face of what might have made this blogger worth reading in the first place.

    Taking it a step further, Forrester banning their bloggers from having their own blogs and pulling it all in house under the guise of owning IP, but still allowing them to “blog”, turns the whole thing again, into someone else churning out something I really don’t wanna read. It’s stepped on. Yea but its a blog post…no it isn’t.

  8. Rob, Marc, Christopher, Craig and Kate: It’s an obvious dilemma with a clear out path, but money always seems to make the obvious more difficult for some folks. And then it becomes a question of character. No one is above the law.

    Kate: I do think you can regain trust (Nixon, OMG). But you have to admit you were wrong and change. Not sure many of these folks have the character to do that. If you think your presence can sustain trust hits like that, then ego is not likely to permit a public admission of error.

  9. Geoff,

    Actually what we’ve found here at Newsforce over these past two years is that properly disclosed and well written “sponsored content” or “advertorial” is incredibly relevant to the reader’s news gathering experience (our publishers are all news sites).

    Our eye tracking study demonstrates that news readers not only read and scan our advertorial headlines almost as ofter as the real news, but when asked, 85% of them said that they understood that it was commercial content yet were interested in reading it anyway.

    Thanks for the post.

    Sincerely,

    Vince Bianco
    CEO
    Newsforce, Inc.

  10. This–in addition to the fact that my subject matter is trust–is precisely why I have not accepted advertising in the 3+ years of my blog’s existence.

    For certain blogs, I don’t think blatant commercialism necessarily produces a conflict of interest about which to be concerned. But if you’re expressing an opinion and expect others to consider it seriously–well, then, how can you?

    What was that about Caesar’s wife?

  11. Our Adfusion service was mentioned in a previous comment. We agree that sponsored content should always be identified as such. That’s why every single article we publish on behalf of clients in our network is clearly identified as sponsored content.

    At Adfusion we employ a team of professional writers and editors. It’s their goal with every article to provide value to the reader. The growth in our company reflects the value we provide consumers and the results we generate for our clients.

    Scott Severson
    President
    ARAnet

  12. Did you know Shakespeare’s company of actors was called The Kings Men? That was sponsored media.  In fact, almost all media is sponsored. Television shows, features films that get ads added when they go to broadcast radio . . . Youtube is sponsored . . . the question is . . . who collects the money. The guy posting the content people actually come to see/read or some third party that just acts as a channel.  I just wish the media were better . . . 

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