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This Week in Content Marketing: The Coming Crisis in #NativeAdvertising


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss the launch of Apple’s iOS 9 update, which may block more than ads – it may affect publishers’ and brands’ ability to do content tracking and optimization. Next, we discuss new research on reader distrust of native advertising, and share our predictions about its future. After that, we turn our attention to a new data-focused partnership between Twitter and Bloomberg, and ponder why content marketers don’t pay more attention to the value of data. Finally, we give two thumbs down to Facebook’s planned “dislike” button, and we reveal why it’s likely to be problematic. Rants and raves include Doug Kessler’s brilliant analysis of the state of content marketing, plus the problem of measurement myopia. We wrap up the show with this week’s #ThisOldMarketing example: Burger Chef.

This week’s show

(Recorded live September 19, 2015; Length: 1:01:29)

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1. Content marketing in the news

  • A correction from last week … John Cleese (4:30): Joe’s rant last week focused on a satirical European threat-level-warnings article that was mistakenly attributed to John Cleese. According to Snopes, earlier versions of this hilarious article appeared online in several previous iterations before someone attached Cleese’s name to it. He had nothing to do with writing or distributing it.
  • iOS 9’s ad blocking features may affect content tracking (5:33): Though they’ve been dubbed “ad blockers,” it’s not just ads that marketers and publishers have to worry about with iOS 9’s new content blockers. Many of these new apps are also designed to shut out analytics and other trackers used to optimize web pages in Apple’s Safari browser, reports Marketing Land. This article is paired with one from Folio magazine that makes the case that the value of traditional advertising is no longer clear. Robert and I discuss the big implications of this trend to publishers and marketers.
  • Consumers can’t tell the difference between sponsored and editorial content (16:44): A new study from Contently shows that consumers identify native advertisements as articles a large percentage of the time. The study also showed that native ads can lift brand approval. This article is paired with one from the Contently blog that states consumers distrust sponsored content and believe it diminishes a news site’s credibility. Robert and I believe this shows the limitations of native advertising; some marketers may dabble in it to help grow their audiences, but ultimately they need to stay focused on nurturing their own platform.
  • Twitter announces new deal with Bloomberg – illustrates the value of social data (26:10): Twitter has become remarkably effective as a data source for stock market analysts – so much so that Bloomberg and Twitter just announced a deal to integrate more tweet data into Bloomberg’s analytics suite. This data will help financial professionals capitalize on breaking news and emerging trends. Robert believes this is a great example of the deep value of data that few marketers ever consider. The poster child for this approach is Kraft, and Robert explains the benefits it has extracted from data. I agree that most brands don’t pay enough attention to the value hiding within their customer data.
  • A Facebook dislike button is coming soon (35:10): After years of speculation and member requests, Facebook is finally working on a “dislike” button, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. But it’s probably not exactly what you think, warns Mashable. Most likely, it won’t be a way for users to “downvote” posts and instead will let users express other emotions, such as empathy. Robert and I shared some concerns about a “dislike,” which could be interpreted in multiple ways. It could provide some useful data to brands; we explain how one agency envisions using it.

2. Sponsor (40:25)

  • This Old Marketing is sponsored by StudioD, a division of Demand Media. In The Content Marketing Files: Lessons Learned from the Last Decade, you’ll learn the ins and outs of content strategy, creation, and distribution. You’ll find over a decade of data and thought-leader tips to help you nail your strategy, track ROI, and publish content that resonates with your target audiences. Download this guide now at


3. Rants and raves (42:00)

  • Joe’s rave: During my opening keynote talk at Content Marketing World, I presented my take on where content marketing is on the Gartner Hype Cycle. While I was only able to discuss it briefly in my talk, Doug Kessler from Velocity Partners wrote a blog post that takes a deeper dive into the Hype Cycle, explains why content marketing has reached an inflection point, and what will happen next. Thanks to Doug for such an insightful analysis of the trajectory of our industry.
  • Robert’s rant: Ian Bell, in an opinion piece on the Folio website, laments the way in which everything publishers do has become overly quantified. In his mind, this has taken some of the joy out of producing high-quality content. Robert agrees with Bell’s assessment, and believes that both advertising and content have become too commoditized in the quest for performance. He challenges content marketers to develop more creative, engaging, memorable content.

4. This Old Marketing example of the week (54:30)

  • Burger Chef: Burger Chef was a big fast-food chain in Ohio when I was growing up. recently published a profile of the popular fast-food chain that brought back a lot of memories for me. Five years before McDonald’s launched its Happy Meals for kids, Burger Chef pioneered the concept with its Funmeals. Burger Chef was one of the first fast-food chains to create characters and build stories around them. They had monsters, the Fangburger family of vampires and even Star Wars tie-ins when the movie franchise was launched in 1977. One of the ways Burger Chef brought these characters to life was through audio. It included a flimsy plastic record in its Funmeals that enabled children to listen to the adventures of Burger Chef, Jeff, and the Fangburger family. I fondly remember doing this with my brother when we were kids. This is an excellent application of creating value outside of the products and services you offer, and a terrific example of #ThisOldMarketing.


Image source: DoYouRemember

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