Advertorial: The Nemesis of Content Marketing
Not every tactic to improve search marketing results is in the best interests of brands. Most recently advertorials have been making the rounds in marketing debates.
Advertorials have always received flak since their inception in print. Recently, the debate has reared its head again in connection to the Interflora and BBC search marketing controversies. Google has made it clear on multiple occasions that it is against buying and selling of links that pass PageRank. It has also expressed its disapproval of advertorials. The events have got marketers and publishers talking about what constitutes an advertorial and if an advertorial is part of a robust content strategy.
Advertorials are essentially advertisements parading as editorials. They are, by nature, meant to promote a service or a product. By providing content that is very heavily slanted in favor of the product or service, they aim to influence the reader. The problem with this kind of content is that because readers believe the entire content is unbiased, they don’t realize that the promotions are cleverly hidden in there. This leads to a whole lot of ethical issues arising out of the seemingly blurred lines between editorials and advertisements.
Content marketing, on the other hand, aims to inform and educate the audience. There is no specific (or apparent) agenda within the content. Consider this. You are walking around a shopping mall when you pass by a counter that sells perfumes. As you walk by, a store employee squirts some on you without warning and proceeds to rapidly tell you all about the features of the product while you stand there taken aback at the sudden onslaught. What if the employee had instead inquired if you were looking for something specific and provided the information you needed? You would’ve been grateful for the assistance and willing to take a look at what she was aiming to sell.
The problem with advertorials is that they presume that audiences can’t form their own opinions on things and need to be told what they need or should buy. In contrast, content marketing recognizes that audiences are discerning. Providing them with the information that they are seeking and letting them make their own decisions is a much better way of gaining trust and eventually their loyalty.
Some aspects that set content marketing apart from advertorials are:
a) It’s informative and well-researched
b) It’s easily shareable
c) It doesn’t recommend a particular product or service
d) It’s respectful of the audience
e) It’s reactive to industry to trends and discussions
f) It’s based on customer insights and preferences
Succumbing to advertorials is almost too easy and eventually pointless for your organization. True marketing virtue lies in carefully planning out a content marketing strategy, monitoring progress at regular intervals, making adjustments where necessary and ensuring positive returns from the entire effort.
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