Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Sponsored Content - The Future, Or A Hot Mess?

Added on by Tom Webster.

That's the topic my Marketing Companion companion Mark Schaefer and I discussed on this week's podcast. Sponsored content is beginning to surface in previously unimaginable places, and with varying degrees of disclosure. Now, with sponsored content showing up in places like Forbes and Harpers, the lines are getting ever blurry.

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Of course, there are two issues (at least) here: the first, obviously, is disclosure. In theory, I have no problem with sponsored content as long as it is clearly labeled as so--and there's nothing new here, right? Time Magazine and airport mags have always had long "advertorial" sections sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or tourism boards, etc. And really, any content in an advertising-supported medium is "sponsored content."

The other issue, though, is where you draw the line personally--on your own blog, for instance. I haven't taken sponsored content here (or guest posts), but have I written nice things about people and products? Sure. And have I received some benefits in the process? Well, I haven't been paid, that's for sure, but in the social web's economy of favors, the books have been balanced, surely. But without a "transaction," per se, there's nothing to disclose, right? 

Maybe well-disclosed, sponsored content is some of the most honest content you have--at least the motives are overt. 

Enjoy this week's podcast, especially the points where I well and truly sell out.

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