Sometimes I look for topics about which to blog, and sometime topics look for me... or so it seems. This post fits the latter.
In doing my daily due diligence reading the 100+ RSS feeds to which I'm subscribed, not to mention the 1/2 dozen different daily email newsletters I receive, on three different occasions today I saw articles dealing with the concept of mixing editorial content and ads. In my book, that's an unpardonable sin.
I was a blogger at Weblogs Inc back when Jason Calacanis was the chief lord and master. Jason had a cardinal rule that he demanded never be broken: Don't mix advertising copy in with editorial content. For instance, if we linked to, say, a book at Amazon, we could not use our Amazon affiliate ID. It was verboten. It was OK for ads to run between blog posts or in the sidebar, but never were ads mixed with the post itself.
Maybe I'm old school, but that's the standard to which I adhere as well. So, you can imagine the umbrage I felt when reading the following articles:
Journalists Cry Foul Over In-Text Ads
You've seen those double hyper-linked words and phrases inside articles. They stand out like a sore thumb begging to be clicked. I hate them with a passion.
Five Ways Google Might Monetize Natural Search Results
Jonathan Mendez, an SEO blogger I highly respect, suggested in this post that Google consider monetizing natural search returns. That's just as egregious in my view as the in-text ad issue, that is if Google doesn't inform the searcher those are paid returns.
Mendez goes even further by suggesting that Google finagle with the algo so that sites which carry AdSense ads receive more favorable returns!
Ad Track: Trying More Ways to Snag Viewers
This was an article from a few days ago, but I noticed it again today. Advertisers are still trying to figure out what to do with the 30-second TV ad. (I have a suggestion: Kill it!)
One option is to, shudder, merge advertising with content. Take, for example, Allstate. In a recent episode of NBC's Friday Night Lights a safe-driving message was written in. The "end of the show then blended seamlessly into a somber 60-second commercial about teen drivers, using Allstate spokesman Dennis Haysbert."
"We're trying to connect advertising with our content," says Marianne Gambelli, president at NBC Network ad sales. "If people are engaged with the content and the characters, they'll engage with the product."
These three examples provide ample evidence of the pervasive and intrusive nature of advertising: Ads contained in editorial content, paid inclusion in organic search returns, and ad copy scripted into television show dialog.
Nonetheless, these practices will continue unabated I'm sure. The in-text ads have a higher click-through rate than traditional online ads, so says media companies; Mendez concludes paid inclusion and other such tactics would possibly "deliver more relevant results AND generate more revenue;" and television "madmen" are on the hunt for ways to keep the viewer from taking bathroom breaks during commercials.
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