26th in a 2022 Series*
You can set your calendar to predict criticism of sponsored content, native advertisement and ads that look like news stories. It’s been going on for years. The latest blast arrived this week from The Conversation, which did a good job listing the offenses. There’s room for paid storytelling for advertisers but it’s virtually impossible to get a 100 percent grade because some publishers will bend the integrity safeguards for revenue. So, here’s a solution that jumps over the controversy. Newspaper publisher, isolate your sponsored content to video. That does two things: in print, you will never have a problem because the ads must be traditional so they, well, look distinctly like advertising; and, now you have a reason to invest in video to enliven your digital products. Full disclosure: This Relevant Point is because I heard Editor & Publisher magazine publisher Mike Blinder tell a Wyoming Press Association audience last week that he’s using webinars to smartly make money by showcasing advertisers’ and vendors’ stories. Webinars that explain or offer solutions have longer shelf lives, too. Since video is somewhat new to the print side of publishing, you don’t have the built-in concerns that arise when advertising borrows techniques from print journalism. Video also allows you to clearly label and add a disclaimer — THIS IS PAID BY THE ADVERTISER — at the front and end of the pieces so the placement problems near journalism evaporate. Away go the integrity questions and a new digital revenue line is born.
–-Tom Silvestri, Executive Director, The Relevance Project
*ABOUT THE SERIES: Our goal is to share a Relevant Point of the Day (RPD) each weekday throughout 2022. Our target is at least 222. Thank you for supporting The Relevance Project. Your success is our focus.