Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 25, 2009 8:35 AM

This Space (Is Not) For Sale

Marketers are going to be using Social Media a lot more in the coming year. Some of it will just be a re-direction of their advertising dollars, and some of it will be in trying to figure out what other ways they can use to either buy their way into the space or try to participate.

Just this week, Forrester Research announced at their Marketing Forum...

"Marketing budgets are following the innovation trail - social media spending in the US will grow from $716 million this year to more than $3.1 billion in 2014, a 34 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). That's a significantly higher rate of growth than the future spending on other interactive marketing channels. Overall, interactive marketing spending in the US will grow from $25.5 billion in 2009 to nearly $55 billion in 2014, a 17 percent CAGR, according to a new Forrester forecast previewed at the Marketing Forum."

What will marketers be spending it on?

From the sound of this press release it reads like a shift from advertising on the major traditional web portals and online newspapers to environments that have more social media-like attributes to them. These types of statements always make me wonder if they're talking about less banners on, say, Yahoo! and more on YouTube (but until we get more specific insights, who knows)? On top of this, Chris Brogan (co-author of the upcoming book, Trust Agents with Julien Smith and co-host of the  Media Hacks podcast) had another provocative post this week titled, I Support the Future of Sponsored Posts:

"I support Ted Murphy and IZEA. I support their intent to deliver quality content marketing with appropriate disclosure and clear delineation. That's why I joined the advisory board. I want to help shape the way I feel content marketing should work. I want to be clear on disclosure. I want to help shape how this impacts blogging, and be sure that we keep all the various iterations for how and why people blog clear."

Personally, I have no appetite for the pay-per-post model (when an advertisers pays a Blogger to Blog about them). You can read my in-depth thoughts about it here: Ethics In Blogging For Dollars, Trust In Non-Transferable and Transparency Is The Starting Point - Credibility Is The Finish Line. That being said, I can see why some Bloggers would accept this type of advertising and why some brands would want to pay Bloggers to write about them. As with everything, your mileage may vary.

It's about nomenclature and positioning.

Calling pay-per-post a "sponsorship" seems like a bit of a stretch. Usually when a brand sponsors something, they are simply attaching their name to an existing event in or order to create an alignment in the public's eye. If Nike sponsors a woman's marathon in San Francisco, they are not influencing the content or context of the event, they are simply helping to finance it through paying for visibility to that group. If Nike were to sponsor a Blog (or a post) the content does not have to be Nike related at all. If Nike buys some pay-per-post Blog postings, they are expecting the Blogger to write about them (and expecting it to be good). We can say that "Bloggers have the right to say whatever they want," but I would be curious to see how many brands re-engage a Blogger who says something even mildly critical of them.

Another way to reconcile some of this is for the Bloggers to make a clear visual distinction in the content (not just disclose it in the copy). Much in the same way Google and Techmeme use both color, font, borders and overall placement to make a clear and clean distinction between what is editorial and what is paid content. A few of those tactics would go a long way in validating if pay-per-post is, indeed, a viable advertising media.

If Bloggers really want to use the pay-per-post model to build revenue, why not call it what it is (pay-per-post) and position it either outside of their regular editorial content or make it visually different? 

By Mitch Joel