Are Publishers Digging Their Own Graves with Brand Content?


At the heart of the debate over native advertising is this central truth, summed up in one concise statement: “…these days, advertisers wield a lot more power and influence over media companies because they [publishers] are desperate for their dollars,” writes Colin Peacock in Radio New Zealand National.

For publishers under economic pressure, it’s easy to let that power overrule editorial integrity when it comes to publishing native ads or sponsored content.

“Get used to it,” Peacock advises.


The article cites several ad agency execs and publishers who are justifying the use of sponsored content. Yet even those who advocate for the practice realize the risk.

“At its worst, you read something that looks like an article and it turns out it was an ad. You feel like you were duped,” says ad agency head Vaughn Davis.

What publishers need to realize is that consumers have more power to self-select their sources than ever, and if readers feel duped by native ads publishers risk exacerbating the growing distrust of mainstream media.

And once that trust is gone, what’s left?

There is a way to use content to tell your brand’s story directly to your audience through solid brand journalism, as brands bypass media altogether and publish their own version of the news for their industry or niche.

“When audiences are clear about where the content is coming from,” notes content marketer Lauren Quaintance, “they don’t necessarily mind if it’s good, helpful information.

Don’t get complacent with your audience. They hold the power of engagement in the palm of their hands, and are growing increasingly intolerant of intrusive marketing. Your brand content just might be the one thing we don’t block…unless publishers mess that up too.