As anyone who works in advertising knows, we’re in a very interesting time right now. Advertising, media, and journalism are converging at an unstoppable rate like never before, and the rise of social and digital media and ease of access to information has not only created incredibly discerning consumers but has changed how they consume brand messages and interact with brands.
Content marketing was the ad industry’s answer to this. When celebrity endorsements and traditional paid advertising stopped resonating, brands and agencies decided that instead of interrupting what was being consumed, they needed to be what was being consumed. Part of this was to leverage “real” people to promote products in an authentic way. We thought this form of content marketing would be the way to break through and with an objective voice to promote the brand, the consumer won’t feel they’re being advertised to. Sounds easy, right?
Now, the landscape continues to shift more quickly than the industry can keep up with. I wrote about content marketing and why we do it in December 2017, and already this view feels outdated.
By now, you’d be nuts not to notice the bevy of influencers and content creators who riddle your social feed. Though more and more their value is (rightly) being challenged in the advertising sphere. These influencers now create content so sleek and well-produced that they may as well be little micro agencies unto themselves. And once an influencer is paid to create this content, is it really any different than a brand paying for a TV spot or a glossy magazine spread?
I argue their value lies in amplifying exposure of a product and selling a dream. The authentic and “real” angle has been thrown out the window. The pretense no longer applies. They give a brand an audience beyond its own reach, and even though we know they’re a paid mouthpiece for the brand the exposure is still unavoidable. Plus, they provide an aspirational view and the idea that if I buy that [insert product here], my life can look like this too.
What do you guys think? Are you influenced to buy based on what you see on social media?