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In defense of sponsored conversations

2 min read

Digital Technology

This post is from Liz Perman, SmartBrief’s senior manager for association relations, who attended the IAB Marketplace: Social Media in New York.

Paul Beck, executive director of interactive marketing and advertising at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, moderated a panel that aimed to debunk the biggest myths about social media. The experts: Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer; Riccardo Zane, president of, New York and Chicago; and Patrick Keane, chief executive of Associated Content.

I’d like to share Des Jardins’ straightforward and convincing approach to busting the first social media myth: Sponsored conversations are a sin.

First, Des Jardins talked about several “bad apples” that give sponsored conversations a bad rap:

  • Deceptive origins. When a brand blogs or tweets under the guise of a character without disclosing it.
  • Paid endorsements included in editorial content. Paid reviews should be kept separate and should be clearly marked as such.
  • Promotional, lacks authenticity. These won’t resonate with your audience.

Next, Des Jardins explained the stance of BlogHer, a community of women bloggers. The group set its editorial standards for content in 2006 and then used those as a springboard for commercial content standards soon thereafter. They believe that publishers and advertisers have a responsibility to enforce best practices, even if bloggers don’t. Des Jardins shared BlogHer’s standards for sponsored conversations, including:

  • Transparency. You must disclose the fact that it is a sponsored conversation. BlogHer’s sponsored conversations share this right off the bat.
  • Separate the sponsored review from your editorial. BlogHer has an entirely separate section for special offers and sponsored content, which Des Jardins says is very popular.

The take away? Don’t be afraid of sponsored conversations, but make sure that yours isn’t a bad apple.

Image credit, iStock