While all of the readings offer different perspectives on the new wave of branded content, the article from Poynter was the most thought provoking for me personally. The biggest theme I got from the reading was that branded content should blend seamlessly into whichever site it is advertising on. That idea is best exemplified by the following quote.
"For example, the tone and quality should reflect your publication’s values. Whatever your publication is known for — entertainment, utility, intellectual analysis, etc. — your sponsored content should “fit in.”".
The most difficult part of executing branded content well is the "fitting in" to the sites that they're utilizing. I think the main issue with that dilemma is that advertisers are just trying to push their products on any sites that will allow it and expect results just from spreading their advertisements.
When we are browsing through most social network websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram(less so here because relationships/interactions are more shallow), our main objective is to be social, to interact with others, see what your friends are doing, maybe post a funny video or picture. We don't approach those sites with the mindset of shopping or spending money so when we see sponsored or branded content on those networks, its a turn off.
On the other hand, on a site like Pinterest, users are actively searching for things they'd like to have whether its baked goods, new clothes, or any other hobby-related item that tickles their fancy. Utilizing branded content on sites like Pinterest will be way more effective for advertisers because they're getting their message to people who are itching to spend money, not time with friends online.
Another aspect of that dilemma is that as heavy consumers of online content, we have become more than adept at spotting B.S. on the web. As was stated in the article, we just ignore most of the traditional forms of online advertising like banners and such. This remains true for poorly executed forms of branded content. If the ad fails to "fit in" correctly, it'll stick out like a sore thumb to us and we'll just continue scrolling. The idea of advertisers working with the employees of the sites they're utilizing seems to be the best solution to avoid that issue of sticking out. The more natural the advertisement appears, the less likely our B.S. alarms are to go off when consuming content.
Transparency is another issue for websites and advertisers alike, as the websites need to make it extremely clear that the content is sponsored in order to maintain the audience's trust. In addition to making that clear, the Poynter article suggests also informing your audience of the method used in the creation of the ad.
I mentioned Instagram earlier with Facebook and Twitter because while they have the potential to benefit greatly from branded content, so far their efforts have been lacking, with advertisements still coming across as extremely obvious. I don't really know the solution to that, and even if I did I certainly wouldn't post it to a blog, as hyenas might circle and try to steal my idea.