PR, advertising or partnership in social media? the lost consumer…

by Laurent François

Valeria Maltoni shares inspiring thoughts about the differences btw PR, advertising and sponsored conversations. Here are her statements:

Forrester makes five recommendations in the brief: mandate disclosure, ensure freedom of authenticity, partner with relevant blogs, don’t talk and then walk away (yes, that is directed to marketers). Steve Rubel says that the distinction between writing an advertorial and writing in a blogger’s own voice might get prickly.

I agree. In fact, I’m aligned with what Wendy Piersall – another business person I respect and read – says in the comments to Steve’s post:

“We are definitely going to see more of it, because the metrics are emerging to prove sponsored content works.

Few businesses don’t rely on some sort of sponsored endorsements. Referral fees, product placement, and celebrity endorsements have been around for decades (centuries, even, as Olympic athletes were paid to use products in ancient Greece!).

I once received a free (but not inexpensive) camera to review and I thought it was a piece of crap. I offered to send it back to the agency and not write the review, but they (impressively) asked that I write it anyway. Influencers aren’t willing to ruin a good reputation by shilling crap, nor by pissing off brands, either.”

Well, great. Some bloggers are now institutionalized references, and can have a legitimacy to be paid to share some contents with brands. The contents, if clearly identified as paid ones, are just a new way to advertise. After all, The Economist is full of that in its pages. The thing is that the search engines results, if they want to prevent people from finding only paid posts (so let’s say “less authentic” content), have to remove them from the first pages of results. Just have a look on the follow vs no-follow debate right here.

Well, the distinction that Forrester makes is probably great for us as marketers, but it does not explain the reality on the first results page of Google: the three pillars can be mixed, and can lead to a great misunderstanding for consumers. The difference btw The Economist and Google first page is that in the magazines, you have explicit mentions that you’re now reading a sponsored/paid content. When you read Google matrix, it’s far more complicated.

That’s why I do agree with Matt Cuts (Google) – yes I do agree with Google sometimes :p – opinion:

“Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute). Google — and other search engines — do take action which can include demoting sites that sell links that pass PageRank, for example”.

Let’s see how webmasters, marketers and Google people manage to find a better way for (yes we forget them all the time) the citizens-consumers – remember them?

One Comment to “PR, advertising or partnership in social media? the lost consumer…”

  1. yes, I agree, the distinction may become prickly. Thank you for extending the conversation.

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