Thursday, October 29, 2015

Advertising Through Social Media

Robert Vollman

If you were like me, you probably enjoy the fact that McDonalds now serves breakfast all day every day. It was quite a nice surprise that I wasn't really expecting them to pull off. However, if you were also like me, you probably got slightly annoyed at the commercial campaign that was made to launch it.

While this type of advertising may be slightly unbearable it times, its the type of advertising that we see everyday and it may not go away for quite sometime. It is the use of advertising through social media.

For the past 5 or so years,many companies have been putting out ads online through their pages that were made on various sites across the web. The hope for this is that it will encourage more people to follow them, try the new products, and keep watch on them to see what they come out with next.

Everyone loves to fight for the most likes.

In theory, its a good idea. With more people following what a company advertises, the input can come up much faster and if they want to fix what the people feel is wrong, they can do it much sooner than what it would have taken 20 years ago.

However, in some cases, the use of advertising in the media of online can also get very annoying and overused, especially the use of hashtags.

Overall, its pretty great that companies can work with the public in a much faster way. but on occasion, its ok if they back off from it once in awhile.

Ethics in Native Advertising

Isabella Andersen

Can you tell the difference between an ad and an article? If not, don't worry; you're not the only one. Sponsored content, also called native advertising, is the promotion of products and services disguised as an article, and it is taking over many news websites and blogs. In fact, it's hard to find a news website that doesn't run sponsored content. It seems everyone, from Buzzfeed to CNN, uses articles to advertise for sponsors. These articles have been used to promote television shows, beauty products, contact lenses, and even Scotch tape. This practice isn't new, and it definitely isn't going anywhere; but what about the ethics of it all? 

As an aspiring writer, I have been searching for internships for a few months. (Don't worry; this isn't sponsored content to sell my brand.) Specifically, I am searching for a blog writing or copywriting internship. The problem, though, is that each time I attend an interview for either of these, the job turns out to be exactly the same. My potential employers want someone to write ad articles, promoting their products/services (usually some sort of subscription website), and disguise them as helpful articlesfrom someone who has tried the service, about ways to help college students survive until they graduate. 

While I don't have a problem with writing ads, I do have an issue with pretending I'm trying to help someone, when all I really want is to sell something. I also have a problem with pretending an ad is actually a news article. It's deceptive; it makes me feel dirty; and it ends with my words being used to manipulate impressionable minds. 

What can we do about it? It is up to us as readers to ensure that we do our part. We must always be aware of what we are reading. Though it is hard to tell, at first, if what you're reading is an ad or an article, there are ways to recognize native advertising. We must question everything and do our own research. Search the internet to try to find instances of the website you are reading posting native advertising articles. Before you allow an article to sell you something, look for fine print at the beginning and end of the article to see if it states anywhere that you are reading sponsored content.  

As writers, we must remember that ethics in writing and advertising is equally as important as selling our sponsors' products or services. Always state that an article is an ad, if it is one, and name the sponsor. We should treat our readers like critical thinkers. Write high-quality copy, but allow them to decide for themselves if the product is right for them. Yes, the world is changing; we should change with it, but always for the better.  In short, if you feel as if you are being dishonest, you probably are. 

Can It Work?

Jillian Kata

Sponsored advertising is a controversial topic across the media and business spectrum. The problem sparks because advertisers want to expand on their innovative ways to reach a consumer with their ads.  The new way to do this is through native advertising, which allows them to reach a consumer about a product sub consciously by keeping them interesting and telling a story.

On the other hand, journalists want content to remain informational and truthful.   They don’t want to feel that their audience is being deceived by advertisements blending into news stories.  Let me break it down for you:

Advertisers Perspective
With the digital age changing and improving as quickly as ever, advertisers are faced with more and more pressure to keep up.  The traditional ways of advertising no longer reach consumers the way they used to.  People expect advertisements to be more engaging, innovative, and tailored to consumer desires.  This is why advertisers began diving into native advertising.  

Lon Otrembais the CEO of a company called Bidtellect, which is a platform for publishers and advertisers to buy and sell native ads. In an article on Business Insider Otrembais described why advertisers are rooting for sponsored content: “After billions of dollars of invested capital and countless hours of engineering… consumers are showing a strong willingness to engage with native ads, particularly when compared with banner ads. People like native ads. And importantly, they're now scalable.”  Although this is a breakthrough for advertisers, it manages to have many setbacks for journalists.

Journalists Perspective
The journalism business has also had its ups and downs when adjusting to the digital age. But one thing is sure; the ethics of journalism emphasizes the importance of journalists telling the truth.   A story loses its audience if the facts reported are misconstrued.  

This is a big reason why journalists are against native advertising.  They believe that sponsored content is deceiving to their audience and misplaces the trust of their industry. The Wall Street Journal editor in chief, Gerry Baker, commented on this controversy saying: “If [advertisers] manipulate the digital or print operations of those news organizations, it makes the reader confused as to what is news and what is advertising, and the reader’s trust, the very reason that those advertisers want to advertise in those news organizations, goes away.”  

Although sponsored content may be telling the truth, it can change the perception the reader has about its content.  If they are unaware that it’s an ad, it can skew their understanding of its purpose.  Although there are many negatives to native advertising for journalists, it can bring in more money for the news industry if they are being paid to include ads as a part of their content.

So can it work? I believe so, but, only on a small scale. There must be a development of guidelines and rules to be strictly enforced and followed.  There must remain a clear line between a journalistic piece and an advertisement.   

My biggest hope is that sponsored content will increase revenue for the news industry and keep it alive as it competes within the digital world.  It’s essential that journalists and advertisers find a medium that can deliver the results advertisers are expecting, while assuring that the article follows the ethical guidelines of journalism. 

Who Wrote It?

Diana Taggart

This week our ethics class readings discussed yet another new-to-me topic: advertorials – advertisements disguised as editorial content in print and electronic media.

 Defining terms is the first step in any discussion, so I did an Internet search on “content marketing vs. native advertising.” One of the links the search brought up was appropriately titled, “Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising.” This blog article by Michael Gerard, the CMO of Curata, listed three key differences between the two: purpose, tone, and benefits. 

Purpose differences are that native advertising’s main thrust is to sell a product while content marketing’s goal is to build trust with the potential customer over a long term relationship.

 Tone is pretty clear in that native advertising can be pushy in pushing the product they are selling while content marketing’s tone is usually knowledgeable and authentic. 

And in benefits the blog says that readers can “smell a sales pitch a mile away.” In “Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising,” it says under the heading of Benefits, “Content marketing done well builds trust with readers, helps create shareable content for blogs, social media feeds, email lists, and avoids some of the potential legal issues associated with native advertising because it doesn’t try to mislead.” (emphasis mine).

Another truly excellent article was on our reading list and came from the American Society of Magazine Editors. It was titled, “ASME Releases Tighter Guidelines on Magazines’ Native Advertising.” 

In this article by Michael Sebastian (pictured below) he tells us that the ASME urges the idea that native ads should use different fonts and graphics than those of the other, regular articles in the magazine, blog, tweet, or wherever it’s being published. That will distinguish the ad from real content. 

The article states that it has no legal power to enforce the guidelines the organization recommends but can bring peer pressure to bear on publications by excluding them from consideration for prestigious awards if they do not conform to those guidelines.

Michael Sebastian
Photo from
Transparency and attribution were the two points mentioned most often in our readings about native advertising. It is crucial that we not try to trick our audience into thinking that what they are reading is an editorial piece on the subject.

 It is hard enough to swallow advertising on a 24-7 basis without having it snuck into our consciousness as ‘news’ that we are reading. And I personally believe the transparency needs to be in a prominent position at the TOP of the piece and then reiterated at the bottom.

 I am far more open to reading an advertorial if I know up front that that is what it is and if it gives me information I can use right now without first having to go out and purchase the product. I truly think that one reason the general public distrusts advertisers is the dishonesty inherent in getting someone to buy something they don’t want or need. The job of the advertiser is to create a need where none exists, or to point out to potential customers the need of which they are unaware. 

The trickery used by “snake oil” salesmen through the ages and by unscrupulous admen (and women) has left a bad taste in the public’s mouth and it is up to honest, ethical journalists, editors, and publishers to make sure that we do not become a member of that particular society by emulating their tactics. 

A well-written infomercial which does not try to force the customer into buying immediately can go a long way toward diffusing a potentially confrontational situation. So saying, following the ASME guidelines for using different fonts and different graphics when publishing native advertising or content marketing (chose your term) can keep the majority of our readers coming back for more. And isn’t that our job?

It's Just Advertising

Brenda Keck

Brands use social media to find loyal customers

"A May 2010 report from research firm BIA/Kelsey predicts that brands will spend upward of $8.3 billion on social media advertising by 2015. From Facebook to Tumblr to Groupon, millions of consumers have gravitated to social media sites, making them an ideal space for brands. Brands can play many roles in social media and have much greater opportunities to connect with consumers outside of the typical promotional and marketing scope. Social media gives brands a forum for interacting with consumers in a much more personal and collaborative way." by Amy Adkins, Demand Media

Brands use social media to market to new and existing customers. Brands use their Facebook pages and You Tube accounts to encourage consumers to post photos and videos of themselves using the product or service. The more natural role of brands in social media is to let the consumer speak and to talk. Brands still use marketing and promotional tactics like contests, coupons and advertising,but that is only one part of their role. Social Media platforms like Facebook give brands the ability to get feedback on new products and services.

What journalists need to know bout ‘content marketing’
  • Understand the differences between objective journalism and “brand content”
  • Make honesty the highest priority
  • Make honesty the highest priority
  • Disclose anything that resembles a conflict
  • Dialogue is necessary
"Today’s journalist faces an abundance of ethical challenges, some due to fast-paced publishing pressure, others to new, growing opportunities for work." Shane Snow

The media must keep the Code of Ethics near and dear to their heart as the social media takes off full speed ahead. Journalists have an obligation to be unbiased to the viewers. The power of social media has such an impact on the public that if a catastrophe were announced via social media and not confirmed, chaos could be created. However, it something like this did happen and journalist were not trusted, the same outcome could happen.

It is so important for reporters and journalist, writers and editors, to keep ethical reporting front and center, so that little doubt can be perceived through public opinion and what they hear is what they can believe.

Once Upon a Good Ad...

Today as viewers and as consumers, we are entitled to not only take the words we hear but pass along the message that we received. Advertising is the top priority to money making for any company, they want us to see the product and talk about it. So, they put their brand all over the media we see it, we believe it and we talk about it.

In this weeks reading How news organizations can sell sponsored content without lowering their standards. “Going beyond banners and having a full page gives you a bigger canvas and allows an advertiser to tell a story,” Peretti told me. “And that’s what good advertising was in the Mad Men era of advertising — really thinking about a brand and what stories should it tell. Selling the content is important in any advertisement as well as staying true to the code of ethics.

In recent Barbie campaign, Mattel uses uplifting quote "When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become." Barbie commercial gives motivation to the generation of the future that with their barbie doll they can become anything they want. As a young female adult I have witnessed the progression of advertising and the use of females in advertising. In many advertisements focused on women it is along the lines of "Sex Sells." It is refreshing to see that brands are now highlighting women in a positive light especially to the future generation of women.

 "Word of mouth" is the biggest form of advertising. I am a twenty year old college student and the barbie commercial was posted everywhere on my social media. The reputation barbie is receiving is uplifting to the company and only feels appropriate with the Holiday season approaching. With many competitors in the toy industry, the consumer will remember the Barbie commercial and be more likely to buy.

Between Ad Blocking and Ad Makeovers many people choose to ignore pop-ups or read and share them. We love ads, we hate them, but companies are still paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to create them. They catch our attention they get to the point. There's a reason we have over 6 commercials between one episode of our favorite TV series. The entertainment industry is making money and the brands are benefiting from the views.

Regardless is our commercial breaks are filled with retail advertisements or political threads the struggle of advertising will always be a problem to society. It is refreshing to see new campaigns such as Barbie that not only advertise their product but good morals. Throughout the TV industry children are often exposed to negative information via media. Through good word of mouth and good brands we can only grow from the negative spotlight to see the good in advertising. Advertising is a top priority to many brands, it's the creative director that controls the outcome of a good Ad.

So, next time you are complaining of the excessive long commercial break take the time to realize the story that was being told. Be like Barbie, have an imagination it's the key to a good story.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Protect The Kids

Namisha Rakheja

Advertisements; we love them, we hate them, we laugh at them and, mainly, we search for the quickest way to skip them.

The purpose of advertisements was originally to promote your company’s product and get people to buy it, simple. However, now the purpose of advertisements is to simultaneously manipulate, harass and intrigue the viewer to yearn for your product.

I’m not even going to lie, the other day I was watching T.V., minding my own business, until a Kit Kat commercial came on. The annoying, crunching, catchy tune was blasting from my television screen while kids in the commercial were trick-or-treating, enjoying their Kit Kats.  A few minutes later, I couldn’t focus on my show because I started craving Kit Kats. I was so upset because it was ten o’clock at night and there was no way I could’ve gotten a Kit Kat, even though I purchased a bar the next day. This is exactly what the issue is and I am ashamed to say that they got to me.

As delicious as Kit Kats are, they are bad for us, especially young children. In a nation that is known for its obesity, advertisers manipulating our children into wanting junk food are not what we need. This goes for many products. Advertisers know what they’re end goal is (to sell their product) and they will not stop until they get it.

Image from: Google

No matter how much you try to tune out commercials, they are everywhere! If you see something 17,000 times a day being promoted on your Facebook wall, your T.V. screen, your Google page, it is inevitable that it will sink into your subconscious.

Blogger, Matthew McPartland, wrote in his blog titled, Why We Could be Hurting Children’s Futures, All advertisers need to be evaluated on if their ad is ethical or severely detrimental to children’s well being”. Children pick up on anything quicker than adults so for a child to view about 40,000 ads on television alone (Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) is extremely injurious to their mindsets. 

It is no doubt that children urge to be adults and that is what advertisers capitalize of. “This entices them to believe that if they buy the product they will be more mature. Age compression can also be seen with items such as the iPhone and iPad. Kids are now asking for those instead of toys”  (McPartland). When I was six years old I was not asking for an iPad, or any device that my parents had.

This well-thought out plan advertisers perform is much like the checkout line at Kroger. There are a plethora of items that no one really needs but if a child sees it over and over again, they’re going to start to beg for it.

Writer of Marketing to Children, Sharon Beder, agrees that advertising companies’ biggest targets are children. “Young children are increasingly the target of advertising and marketing because of the amount of money they spend themselves [and] the influence they have on their parents spending” (Beder).

It is a sick, unethical, corrupt game advertisers play and children are whom they use as their goals. Whether its Kit Kats or cigarettes, it is important that we realize advertisers’’ intentions and protect our children from these vultures.

Native Advertisement?

By Krystal Thorp

If you’re like me and roughly 49% of the rest of the world, native advertising means absolutely nothing to you. You have either never heard of it, or don’t know what it means.  Simply put, it is advertising that is made to look like the content you’re reading.

 According to the Native Advertising Playbook, written by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), native advertisements are “paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”

John Oliver does a good job giving some more insight into native advertising in a clip from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  

So what’s the problem?  Hasn’t this been around for decades, in magazines, newspapers, and pretty much every website that exists?  Yes, but now it has gotten to the point where normal internet users cannot distinguish between content and an advertisement. 

This causes issues with consumers because our trust in the publisher is diminishing.  It also confuses the reader with various labels.  Aside from plainly stating “advertisement” companies can use “sponsored by,” “brought to you by,” “presented by,” and “promoted by” to label the sponsored content. 

Further, readers state that they feel deceived when they realize the content they are looking was sponsored by someone else.  A 2014 study done by Contently showed that almost 54% of web users do not trust sponsored content.    

So why have websites started using this sort of advertising?  A 2007 eye-tracking study done by the Nielsen Norman Group had the following to show:

What you are looking at is the eye movements of users on websites.  The red indicates the most number of views, while the yellow has fewer views, and the blue minimal views.  Did you even notice all of the advertisements on the top and right hand sides?  If not don’t worry, there is almost no color which indicates that no one else did either! See the problem?  Advertisements are being placed where no one looks, making them pointless and a waste of advertiser money. 

So along comes native advertisement.  For a fantastic and more in-depth article on sponsored content, I strongly urge you to read Everything You Need To Know About Sponsored Content by Chad Pollitt  

Facebook and Political Advertising

Heather Oard

As the 2016 presidential election campaigns ramp up, there's a steady stream of declarations about the winners and losers of debates, polls, and fundraising. The path to the presidency will run through new territory, your Facebook news feed. As the race begins, the world’s largest social network is emerging as the single most important tool of the digital campaign, with contenders as different and disparate as Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson, Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, all investing in the platform already.

Republican Presidential Candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush at the first Republican debate, co-sponsored by Facebook.

Thanks to powerful new features unveiled since the 2012 campaign, Facebook now offers a far more customized and sophisticated splicing of the American electorate. And, for the first time in presidential politics, it can serve up video to those thinly targeted sets of people.

That unprecedented combination is inching campaigns closer to the Holy Grail of political advertising: the emotional impact of television delivered at an almost atomized, individual level.
“I can literally bring my voter file into Facebook and start to buy advertising off of that,” says Zac Moffatt, who was Mitt Romney’s digital director and whose firm now works for Rick Perry’s campaign and Scott Walker’s super PAC.

“We use Facebook more than any single tool,” says Wesley Donehue, a top digital strategist for Marco Rubio, speaking about both his political and corporate clients. “The level of targeting has gotten so sophisticated, allowing us to drive different messages to different audiences. I mean, the amount of content we’re pumping out on Facebook right now is just unbelievable.”

With 190 million American users, Facebook’s wealth of information about its members is unmatched: identity, age, gender, location, passions much of which is coughed up voluntarily. But it doesn’t end there. Facebook has a far more complete picture of its members than even what they’ve typed in themselves. 

Through partnerships with big data firms, like Acxiom, the site layers of behavioral information, such as shopping habits. What that means is that Facebook, with its reach across a huge swath of the U.S. electorate, can pinpoint individual voters at the most granular of levels. And that’s why campaigns are buying their way in, reshaping not only campaign budgets but how the political battle itself is fought and won.

Facebook won’t be the only digital behemoth that gets a revenue boost from political spending in 2015 and 2016. Google, one of Facebook’s chief rivals for campaign dollars, is expected to garner big sums, especially with its preroll ads on YouTube, inventory for which is already running low in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

A rising tide, after all, lifts all boats, and Forrester Research projects that total spending on digital ads—for all American advertisers, not necessarily those in politics—will overtake television in 2016. But when it comes to knowing its audience, campaign strategists say Facebook remains king. “You’re just not going to find that level of data with any other ad networks,” Skatell says.

Almost every major contender or their PAC has already bought Facebook ads this year. One reason is how precise campaigns can be. Paul’s team is trying to gather email addresses for potential Iowa voters. So the campaign is running Facebook ads “to people who we know are likely caucus goers, who like Rand Paul’s page, for example, and whose email we don’t have,” Harris says.