The traditional advertising model is slowly withering away and publishers are looking for fresh, exciting new ways to keep the advertising dollars rolling in. In an era saturated with social media, where the typed word can have a make-or-break effect on a business, it’s vital for publishers to find a way to keep themselves afloat and hopefully, profitable.
Sponsored content is becoming the latest must-have by advertisers who want to ensure consumer eyes are seeing their product. The problem most consumers have with sponsored content, however, is its ability to blend in too easily with the “real” editorial content of a publication. It creates a blurred line that makes it difficult for some consumers to distinguish the content from the advertising. The ads are made to have the same look and feel as the publication, with images that also make it seem like an article instead of an ad. Adding confusion to the mix is trying to distinguish whether a staff writer wrote a piece or if it came from a sponsor. It has many scratching their heads, for sure.
One can’t blame advertisers for trying to get placement. It's part of their responsibility to also remain profitable by making sure consumers know about them. Nonetheless, have publications gone too far? Are they losing credibility?
As a consumer, I would feel comfortable with it as long as there is a clear mention that what I’m reading is an ad and whether it was written by a staffer or the sponsor. That would certainly make a difference, and I would question the publication’s integrity if I knew that one of their writers was writing an ad in addition to their own legitimate articles. I don’t think a journalist should also be a copywriter for the publication they represent. But again, that’s just my opinion.
Here are two articles that touch on this topic:
What do you think? Are you willing to accept sponsored content or is it a deception to those who purchase a publication (regardless of it being printed or online)?