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How to detect content marketing and branded content?

Content marketing is a great marketing strategy to adopt, but at times, can consumers be lured into thinking your content is truly neutral and independent? How can brands make sure they are not tricking their audiences?

Content marketing is defined as content that is produced by a brand in order to influence a future profitable action by a buyer or consumer.

This is a great tool if you are on the brand’s side, but what about consumers and audiences?

Do they really know what content marketing and branded content is?

What if they read content produced by a brand that explains all the benefits of a product or service but they don’t realize it is not a neutral opinion?

Great power come with great responsibilities, and I strongly believe luring consumers with content IS a great danger and it is partly the responsibility of the brand to make sure it doesn’t happen.

When publishing content, you want to make sure that people actually know that the brand is behind it, that if a brand is behind a piece of content that it will be favourable to its solution, product or service.

And I am not talking about attribution (consumers being able to recall a brand name when thinking about a problem or a need), but the actual source of a piece of content.

Justin Pot, a long-time branded content copywriter, has written a very interesting article on the subject in Wired.

In it, he wants to raise awareness on the consumer side about what to look for when consuming content online. How they can make sure that they are aware of the realities of branded content and content marketing.

He is not advocating putting the axe in content marketing, he is rather advocating that consumers should know more, be more aware, alert, about what they read.

They should make sure that:

  1. They notice the name of the website they’re reading.
  2. They pay attention to the website’s top bar.
  3. If an article recommends a product, check whether they’re on that product’s website.
  4. Check out the homepage of the site they’re on.

It might sound simple and basic, but we can be sure that many people end up making a decision based on content they came across, but without being “in the know” that the content was actually branded content.

Whenever your brand publishes content, you should make sure that you are not hiding in any way the fact that this is content marketing. The keys to know where that content comes from and why it exists should be discoverable and accessible to anyone.

Is your brand a culprit of “blind” branded content?