There has been a lot of buzz in the marketing blogosphere this week about the research brief released by Forrester entitled “Add Sponsored Conversations To Your Toolbox: Why You Should Pay Bloggers To Talk About Your Brand”.
Articles discussing this brief have popped up on Micro Persuasion and AdWeek, among others. The research brief talks about how sponsored blog posts and conversations are going to become more common and this will be a great way to reach consumers. I agree that online influencers such as bloggers are a great way to reach consumers, but is paying bloggers really okay? To me it seems like this rides a fine line between editorial coverage and advertising. There have been ‘sponsored posts’ on blogs for some time, and the distinction between these sponsored posts and regular posts have always been obvious. So if this is done totally transparently, as it should be done, would it really have the same impact as a typical blog post, or would you just skip past it like I do with those ‘sponsored posts’?
Forrester discusses that these “sponsored conversations” are somewhere between editorial coverage and advertising. That is illustrated in the following chart pulled from the report:
Source: Forrester Research, Inc.
And what does this mean for bloggers? Although they are not officially considered journalists, many work in the same way that journalists do. By paying them, we are making them more brand ambassadors than journalists. Would you keep reading your favorite blog if you knew the blogger was being paid for everything they write, or do you read that blog to find out their personal, uncensored opinion?
If this is the future, I hope it is done transparently and ethically. What do you think? Is the “Influencer Program” the new online advertising?