- Posting the same content to multiple social media channels at once is a ‘don’t’.
- Don’t ask for favors from people online that you have yet to build relationship with.
- Don’t abuse the ‘breaking news’ label to garner more page views.
- Newsjack with extreme caution, if at all.
- Don’t blast news releases to anyone and everyone.
The list goes on. But there’s a communications trend that has an increasingly polarizing affect: sponsored content. Organik SEO’s most recent weekly Twitter chat, #OrganikChat, was dedicated to the do’s and don’ts of online advertising, but the primary point of interest quickly became whether or not sponsored content, also popularly known as native advertising, is ethical.
The Case for Sponsored Content
Marketing and advertising evolve. Many argue that if sponsorship is clearly displayed on content, it is not only acceptable to employ sponsored content, but a beneficial marketing strategy, as a recent Vocus article suggests.
Here are a few questions to ask before embarking on a native advertising campaign:
– Have you done your research? Be sure to have a thorough understanding of your target audience.
– Does the sponsored article offer value to your audience?
– Be smart with your ad placement. Is it relevant to your brand or completely off topic?
– Is your content interesting?
– Does your content fit in with what your audience is already consuming online?
– Have you displayed the ‘sponsored by’ information prominently?
Food for thought: A chat participant said the following, “Native ads aren’t limited to online. A recipe in a magazine that calls for a certain product is a native ad. It’s not digital.” With this in mind, should we consider an article on Runner’s World (this is hypothetical) about first-time marathoner tips that is sponsored by Nike spammy or valuable? Perhaps people will consider the brand sponsoring the ad as a knowledgeable resource?
The Case Against Sponsored Content
The best websites and blogs provide value to a consumer and in doing so, create trust and build relationships with readers. Sponsored content, when woven into an existing content structure in a subtle manner, often feels deceptive and disruptive to those who happen upon the very small ‘sponsored by’ disclaimer. Is the content truly of value? Can the consumer trust the publisher or is the brand willing to publish anything to make money?
The debate rages on.
Is it perhaps the newness of online advertising, specifically sponsored content, that makes it so polarizing? Were magazine, television and radio advertisements met with equal amounts of scrutiny in marketing and communications circles when they made their debut? Or does native advertising take it a step too far?
We’d love to hear what you think.
If you’d like to see what our #OrganikChat participants think about the ethics of sponsored content, view our transcript. Join us for our weekly Twitter chat, every Thursday from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET on Twitter at #OrganikChat for more stimulating discussions!
If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out our post “The Rise of Content Marketing”. The Organik SEO team is passionate about helping businesses grow by tapping into the power of social media and SEO. To discuss how we can help you grow your business, contact us today!