Trumped-up content

November 11, 2015 by

As proof of the moral crossroads at which we stand as marketers, Donald Trump is running for president.  Is he a man or a brand?  Does his agenda include the American public or his personal empire?  His rise in the polls proves to me how powerful even bad marketing can be.  Which begs the question how far is too far to push your brand?

Native advertising, an emerging form of advertising, places marketing content where journalistic content has previously resided – think an article on CNN.com about the Top 10 Ways to Save Energy sponsored by GE.  Much like Donald Trump at a presidential debate, I believe native advertising poses a quandary for marketers and brand managers in that it can very easily feel slimy and wrong.

A while back, John Oliver did an exposé on native advertising from the journalist’s perspective.  In a nutshell, he postulated that consumers have proven unwilling to pay for news in its current form, so media organizations have had to find revenue streams elsewhere.

Most publications today have rules about native advertising that are supposed to help readers discern which articles are true journalism and which are trumped up ads, but I think it’s still hard to differentiate them at times.  I understand how some people might feel they’ve been purposefully deceived if they’re not aware they’re reading a new-fangled advertisement.

So where do I fit in as a marketer?  Am I contributing to the erosion of the free press and building mistrust in my audience or am I helping my brands talk to their customers?

I think the answer is that we haven’t got the answer yet.  I believe that if we want the media organizations to be responsible to the public and not the brands, the public will ultimately have to pay for journalism. But how do we create enough value to inspire people to pay for something they currently think should be free?

Now THAT sounds like the right place for good marketing.

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