Black Ops Advertising by Mara Einstein was a disconcerting pleasure to read. Her takedown of Native Advertising and Content Marketing have me second guessing the future of journalism, as the world of the Editorial, sadly/inevitably merges with the world of the Advertorial. From the Flap –
Covert selling, mostly in the form of native advertising and content marketing, has so blurred the lines between editorial content and marketing message that it is next to impossible to tell real news from paid endorsements. In the 21st century, instead of telling us to buy, buy, BUY, marketers “engage” with us so that we share, share, SHARE—the ultimate subtle sell.
To me, the most powerful examples of the problems with Native Advertising, are the huge, in-depth, journalistic-style pieces, about global economics and biodiversity, (sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Shell Oil respectively) which ran in the New York Times recently. Einstein loathes these sneaky, branded attempts to sway public opinion, but not for the selling, rather for what it portends to the future of the media outlet.
Can we trust the New York Times future coverage of these companies, knowing that they have been on this content creation journey together? What business does NYT have in manipulating the opinions people have about Shell Oil and Goldman Sachs?
As the walls between church and state (advertising and editorial) crumble, the true cost of Native has yet to be determined – however, as both a marketer and a consumer of media, this book was well worth the read. She is salty and hates sneaky advertising. And I agree. Kinda. Unless we need the clicks.