The lines in the world of communication are blurring, between content that is paid for and content that is earned.
Think about it. Is the last content you just read sponsored content or earned content? Do you know for sure? Did you check the source? Are you familiar with the writer?
Did the CEO of the real estate brokerage get on the cover of the magazine because her company earned the accolades, or because they paid for a bunch of ads? Did the CTO of the tech startup get on the stage at the big industry tech conference because he was vetted as a great speaker, or because his firm was a Titanium Sponsor?
The truth is that most people cannot tell if the content they are reading or the presentation they are hearing was influenced by sponsorship or advertising dollars unless of course, the content is crap.
And that’s precisely my point.
Great content should still win out whether it is paid for or earned.
The reason the lines of communication are blurring, and that it is becoming harder to realize if a video program is sponsored, or a commercial is a commercial, is that when content is done really well, it works.
We should not be judging content based on whether or not it was paid for, but by the quality of the content. If content is self-serving, it is going to turn people off. It’s going to come across as being crap.
But if content is really good, even if it was sponsored, you are going to value that content.
The opposite should be true as well: if content is really good, even if it is not paid for, you should value that content as well.
What we need to be thinking about is how do we make sure that we are encouraging the creation of great content and not forcing a path of sponsored content when that path should be optional.
The truth is most sponsored content is crap: it’s often just not good content, but mediocre content that tries to hide its self-serving agenda.
As someone who has spent a few decades in public relations working hard to create great content with my clients, it’s frustrating to see the current path that is forcing a route towards sponsor content.
Great content should stand on its own merit – earned or sponsored, as great content is still king.