In the article, "Wanna Buy a Blog?" Ad Age reports Forbes is selling access to its readers by selling advertisers blogs that operate alongside other Forbes blogs.
"This isn't the 'sponsored post' of yore; rather, it's giving advocacy groups or corporations such as Ford or Pfizer the same voice and same distribution tools as Forbes staffers, not to mention the Forbes brand.
'In this case the marketer or advertiser is part of the Forbes environment, the news environment,' said Mr. DVorkin.
The product itself is called AdVoice, and the notion is that in a world of social media, corporations have to become participants and, in a sense, their own media companies. Corporations these days also have to face the practical problem of fewer business reporters left to pitch. 'There's fewer ways to get your message out and that's a fact,' he said."
Will brands buy access? Yes. Will readers react positively? That's entirely up to the brands. AdVoice shows how the lines between paid, owned and earned media are blurring thanks in part to social media.
It seems like a fundamental discussion. It isn't. Beginning to look at your content as part of a paid and earned mix is the first step to integrating all three. But even if you don't, the technology is already integrating it for you. Social media is designed to help us publish, share and syndicate content seamlessly.
New Content Models Needed
In the past, we neatly organized different forms of media in well-divided silos. But social media is messy. It crosses silos to create an ugly Venn diagram. Circles overlap all over the place and no one seems comfortable with it....whether it's on paper, online or within an organization.
Forbes is creating a new revenue stream. This isn't news. This is what we’ve been telling old media they’ve needed to do for some time now. If a brand puts forth bad, self-serving content, they're pissing away their media spend. Readers will gravitate towards good content and they're sure to out anyone trying to masquerade as anything other than themselves.
The benefit of this social media mess is that we've gained a new level of transparency. This isn't the equivalent of consumers losing the separation between church and state. Or old media and brands making a back room deal at the expense of its readers. AdVoice will clearly distinguish its content from editors content according to the article.
"There's a flow of content that's contextual. Anything can appear in any place as long as it's contextual -- that's the web and we are bringing that sensibility to the magazine."
As their options continue to multiply, consumers are becoming more discerning about the media they consume. Contextual media, along with curated media, will continue to morph the already elastic definition of content. Marketers need to understand the various implications and how this impacts their mix of paid, earned and owned media. But at the end of the day, this is more opportunity than challenge.