Advertorial nauseum

August 18th, 2012

How blog advertorial hurts brands and blogs.

Don’t you hate when you sit down to catch up with a personal blog you love, and suddenly, there’s a corporate-supplied graphic or video in your face, and the usually intelligent, unique, thoughtful prose voice of the blogger has been taken over by a gushing lead-in that would be slightly over the top for a late night infomercial?

Don’t you hate when a bunch of the personal blogs you love are doing it all at the same time, with the same corporate-supplied graphic and video in your face repeatedly as you scroll through your RSS reader?

I do. I really hate that. It makes me cringe for the blogger, who is painfully contorting herself trying to make it work somehow. It makes me resentful of the brand or product for degrading quality content by insisting on getting in front of it, instead of more discreetly standing behind it. It’s like a producer replacing the real talent to put his mistress in the lead. The whole production is cheapened.

What I’m saying is, the advertorial model is not working for me, as a consumer. I can’t imagine it working for anyone in the long run. It’s killing the host. Blogging didn’t become a phenomenon because it offered more of what traditional media had already done to death.

I’m not against advertising, sponsorships, making money or any other material reward that can and should come from delighting an audience. I just think there has to be a better way than brand-directed/scripted content. As a matter of fact, I know it, because occasionally, I see sponsorships that do let the content shine. (Hallmark’s Life is a Special Occasion series comes to mind).

I love this medium. I want to see it grow, and grow with it. I want its creators to make a good living and have fun doing it. I’m interested in us working with brands in a way that will support what we’ve built, not undermine it. Am I crazy to think there’s a way for everybody–bloggers, brands, and readers–to win?

What do you think?


11 Responses to “Advertorial nauseum”

  1. Zarah says:

    I don’t like it either – one I remember that was particular pervasive was the launch of Mic Ultra Cider (I think? It’s been a few weeks.) Man, they got to EVERYONE. I swear, half the blogs in my reader, none of which typically talk about alcohol (not that I mind, they just don’t), were all singing the praises of this booze during the same week. It was just… bizarre.

  2. Ashley says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! I saw this just recently with three blogs I love to read. Suddenly they were all writing about tequila. At the same time! I was confused, then kinda irritated.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I actually gave up blog reading for several weeks, because I was so tired of getting halfway into a post, only to realize it was a thinly-veiled advertisement.

  4. Kim says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy. I still want personal blogs to feel personal, even if they are making money. Grace is called for, and discretion. I’ve seen sponsored posts done well from time to time, but mostly, I see the “contorting” ones and I just feel bad for everyone involved. They don’t change my buying habits, and I come away from the post feeling like I know something about the writer that I never wanted to know.

  5. Kyran says:

    I hope I’m using the term “advertorial” correctly here. The kind of thing I’m talking about is content that is largely or wholly generated or scripted by the brand, and embedded within the usual editorial/narrative format. My feelings about them are largely dependent on the context. Such campaigns feel more invasive in some blogs than others, and when they hit multiple blogs in the same week, it amplifies the canned effect.

    I’m not going to walk away from any blog I love just because they throw up content once in a while that doesn’t suit me. But this format seems to be more and more prevalent, and I wonder why, and for whom it’s really effective?

  6. lindsey says:

    I’m all for blog making money from sponsored posts. I hate the posts though that either sound like someone else wrote them, or the brand/product is obviously something they wouldn’t use in every day life. I’m veryvparticluar about what I take on as far as giveaways and reviews for this very reason.

  7. Brianna Bell says:

    I totally get what you’re saying, and I think it’s a learning process. I just started doing product reviews/giveaways, and sometimes I feel like a total jerk, but then I remember that this is my space and my blog. I get to choose what I do, and don’t put on it. If I like a product and they’re kind enough to give me something, I’ll talk about it.

    I think something a lot of non-bloggers don’t get is that blogging takes a lot of time and energy. Bloggers deserve some perks once in awhile.

    I think bloggers just need to be real and honest when they get into advertising. They need to talk to their readers about it or else it’s just this big ugly elephant in the room that everybody is thinking about but nobody is addressing.

  8. Lela says:

    I don’t do a lot of sponsored posts, but if the fit is right, they can be a fun writing prompt. That said, I met so many bloggers at BlogHer this year who when I asked the standard, “What do you write about?” responded with a disheartening, “I’m a lifestyle blogger. I write about products.”

    That said, I’m planning a “product” post this week. The product is beets, and if the beet council wants to give me money, I’ll take it 😉

  9. erniebufflo says:

    Nothing turns me off more than this stuff. I read blogs for good writing, honesty, pretty pictures, to relate to others… I don’t even really feel I can trust most bloggy product reviews. I tend to skip right past it just like I do those pages in a magazine where Dove is trying to convince me the article about their body wash is just another piece in the magazine, when it’s clearly an ad.

  10. […] hey, thanks for indulging me as I figure out aloud how I do and don’t want to work with sponsors and advertising on my   blog, based on what I […]

  11. […] Comments 0 How blog advertorial hurts brands and blogs. Don’t you hate when you sit down to catch up with a personal blog you love, and suddenly, there’s a corporate-supplied graphic or video in your face, and the usually intelligent, unique, thoughtful …read more […]

RSS feed for comments on this post.