Content Marketing means jobs for writers. Jen Agustin reported in Media Post’s Content Marketing Insider, “a quick search for content marketing jobs” yields 160 pages (not positions, but pages) of results on www.CareerBuilder.com and 27,532 actual positions on www.Indeed.com.” Wishpond.com estimated $118.4 Billion was spent on content marketing, video marketing and social media in 2013.
Infographic courtesy of: Lift Division
Max Kalehoff senior vice president of marketing at SocialCode writes in Online Spin: there’s a “dearth of talent in marketing for people who command written words and storytelling.”
That is only going to grow in 2014 when an additional 16% of publishers plan to join the 62% who have already turned to Content Marketing in one or more of its forms: “native advertising, native content,” “partner posts,” “sponsored or featured content,” “advertorials,” video marketing, social media, and blogs. LinkedIn’s native advertising unit expects to increase the professional networking site’s revenue by $46 million in 2014, according to Mark Walsh in Online Media Daily.
Whatever the name for the paid content, some see them as euphonyisms for plugging a product or brand and creating a soft landing spot for advertising, all in the guise of “editorial.” In fact, Ad Age reports: a publishers panel on the subject “seemed to agree that native ads must look and feel more like the editorial content that surrounds it, not less.”
The once proud wall between editorial and advertising is down. Journalism’s ethical Rubicon has been breached and marketing content is flooding the print and digital worlds. Even The New York Times has joined Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar, Wired, The Onion, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., Hearst, Business Insider, The Washington Post, New York Post, The Associated Press and dozens of other publishers that are turning to paid content to supplement their revenue. And there is the rub.
Ultimately, money talks and a recent survey reported by The Center for Media Research, reveals that content marketers must provide (and pay) for an average of 10 posts a day across all media to be effective. “Content Amplification Agencies” dedicated to targeted distribution for paid content, are mushrooming. Those who pay to publish will want to bend content to their purposes, relying on the reputation of the publisher to give it credence. Josh Sternberg reports on Digiday Content Studio’s website that Mental Floss editors created 20 pieces of advertising for a Dos Equis beer campaign. According to Digiday, Will Pearson, president of Mental Floss, reasons, “We wrote this content; we have editorial control over this content. It just aligns with their messaging.”
Veteran advertising critic Bob Garfield is quoted by Catherine Taylor in Social Media Insider as telling a recent FTC workshop on native advertising “With every transaction, publishers are mining and exporting a rare resource: trust. Those deals will not save the media industry. They will, in a matter of years, destroy the media industry: one boatload of shit at a time.”
Garfield’s boatloads are unloading at every port. On any given day Social media alone offers: 140 million Tweets, 1.5 billion Facebook updates, 10 million Tumblr posts, 1.6 million blog posts, and 2 million YouTube video uploads, according to Eileen Bernardo writing for Online Publishing Insider. Multiply those figures by 365, add in print publications and their digital versions, the growing influx of digital video that is just starting to switch from “one size fits all” messaging to multiple, targeted, personalized appeals, and the competition for attention is staggering. As Bernardo notes, not all of paid content writing is good. Far from it. Content mills “game” digital publishing with drek and drivel while algorithms lobotomize the writing profession by stitching together words and phrases gleaned from the Internet.
Fortunately, research has established that good writing wins numbers, trust and engagement for brands that pay for it. In addition, there is a growing consensus that paid content, while striving to fit into the environment of the host’s editorial content, should be identified so as to not mislead the reader or viewer or tarnish the publisher’s reputation. The aforementioned Garfield outlines way to do this in his “The Natives Are Feckless” piece for Media Post’s Blogs.
But by doing so, Wendy Davis asks in The Daily Online Examiner, “Will Publishers Lose Free-Speech Protection With Native Advertising?” For example, celebrity names and photos can be used in news copy without permission but include them in articles labeled advertising and it could mean a lawsuit. And, if it is unidentified as sponsored content, readers may treat the publisher’s work as one of Garfield’s boats coming ashore