The war is over but the battles continue as media critics rant about “content marketing,” “native advertising” and other euphemisms for paid space or time masquerading as editorial content.
P.J. Bednarski bashed the practice in a VideoBlog June 2 titled: Native Ads: Finessing Fuzzy. TV satirist John Oliver ridiculed the concept on his August 3 Last Week Tonight TV show. That brought an open letter dissent from Sergey Denisenko, head of a global native advertising agency, which brought an open letter rebuttal from MediaPost editor-at-large Bob Garfield and, in turn, an open letter reply to Garfield from Denisenko, All that in Media Daily News.
Advertising Age’s media guy Simon Dumenco chimed in Sept. 1, adding more reasons to support Oliver’s complaints about native advertising. Garfield, who earlier declared his implacable opposition to the practice in a column titled The Crusades Lasted 200 Years. I’m Just Getting Started, then wrote a not too far-out parody: ABC News’ ‘The Brothelette’ after it was revealed the broadcaster had been paid by a company to produce and air as news an interview with two celebrities about their participation in the company’s ad campaign.
Not all journalists are on the con side of the discussion. Auto writer Dave Kiley writes: “Just Because Your B-School Didn’t Cover Content Marketing Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Here” and offers five reasons why companies should include good content in their marketing plans. Another reason for content marketing may be the fact that banner ads are not working on the Internet. Nicholas Carter reports for Business Insider, a study found “It’s More Likely You Will Survive A Plane Crash Or Win The Lottery Than Click On A Banner Ad.” He continues with a series of other occurrences the study revealed as many times more likely than clicking on those expensive banner ads. Among them: a full house in poker, getting accepted at Harvard and winning a lottery. Along those same lines, another study is headlined in the LondonBlog, “Facebook ‘Likes’ Really Could Be As Worthless As You Were Fearing, MIT Scientists Reveal.”
Content marketing will continue to grow because, simply, the money is there.
Jack Neff reports in AdAge that Kraft Foods “now generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and four times the return from investment from content marketing than even targeted ads.” Also along this trend lines, Genworth, a long-term care provider has inked a deal with the CNN Content Development Studio that works with advertisers and agencies to develop branded entertainment and sponsored programming, according to MediaPost Agency Daily’s Larissa Faw.
Proctor & Gamble is switching an impressive amount of its marketing budget to social and digital media at the expense of TV commercials and print ads, Thom Kennon writes for Marketing Daily in a provocative piece entitled: Radical Marketing In A Post-Advertising World. A main point he makes: “In this post-advertising world, the untethered human has taken control over all of the content they consume, along with the where, when and what they do with it.”
Maybe. In a posting in The Guardian by Emily Bell points to the possibility that an algorithm can limit the content consumed by the untethered human.
As an example, she sites one person not getting any word from her regular news feed about the riots in Ferguson, Mo. and first learning about them on Facebook. This example, she says, “highlights how a news ecosystem that automatically favours one type of story over another can pour very cold water on democratic debate.” Another example could be the limited news coverage of the 400,000 –person climate march. Or, ESPN’s coverage of the NFL abuse cases.
Bell’s post is titled, “We can’t let tech giants, like Facebook and Twitter, control our news values.” She argues that algorithms should not replace cultural values. That same caution could read, “We can’t let Content Marketers control our news values.” (See Garfield’s parody). Bell concludes her post: “We can build the Internet in space, and robots are taking a central role in our lives. But we need an open conversation about who shapes their values.”