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商业 - 科技

数字媒体广告软文到底行不行?

Erin Griffith 2014年07月15日

调查显示,75%的受访者表示,宁可看到横幅式广告,也不愿意看到软文。一旦人们知道了一篇文章或一段视频是由某个品牌赞助的,他们就会觉得受到了欺骗,甚至会怀疑媒体的公信力。

    近年来在出版和广告行业中,关于“赞助内容”或曰“原生广告”、“软广告”的争论甚嚣尘上。顾名思义,“赞助内容”指的就是那些看起来很像网友的热心评论,实质上却是由广告主直接付钱打造的广告。

    现在,这种广告模式不仅被BuzzFeed等新兴的网络公司所采用,就连《福布斯》(Forbes )和《大西洋月刊》( The Atlantic)等老牌媒体也打上了软广告的主意。业内人士在观察之余不免议论纷纷:软广告是不是骗人的?是不是不道德?还有,它究竟有没有效果?

    不管这些问题的答案是什么,不可否认的是,这种做广告的方法眼下已经悄然时兴起来。《华盛顿邮报》(the Washington Post)、《华尔街日报》(Wall Street Journal)、《纽约时报》(New York Times )等大牌报刊也会隔三岔五发几篇软文。【《财富》(Fortune )也决定不再置身事外。】去年广告主们花在软广告上的金额达到了24亿美元,比2012年跃升了77%。同年,《华盛顿邮报》的研究总监将软广告誉为“一场心灵的旅程”。(这是真的。)

    根据Contently公司近日发表的一篇调查显示,软广告虽然受到了出版商的欢迎,但消费者却对它很不感冒。作为一家创业公司,Contently的主要业务就是给品牌和软文写手牵线搭桥,因此这篇调查的结果可以说简直与Contently的目标背道而驰。

    有三分之二的受访者表示,一旦他们意识到一篇文章或一段视频是由某个品牌赞助的,他们会觉得受到了欺骗。超过半数的受访者表示他们不会相信软广告,不管它是关于什么的。59%的受访者认为,一个新闻网站如果登载了软广告便会失去公信力——不过尽管如此,他们还是觉得软广告的可信度好歹要比《福克斯新闻》(than Fox News)强上那么一丁点。

    软广告是否会造成误解以及损害公信力?出版商和广告主们对这个问题经常用同一句话回答:“它已经标明是‘赞助内容’了!”以读者们聪明的智商是应该能看出来的,批评人士似乎也有点矫枉过正了。

    也就是像新闻平台True/Slant的创始人刘易斯•德沃金所说的一样,它们都“打了标签”。在德沃金的领导下,《福布斯》的供稿人网络获得了极大的拓展,而且德沃金还负责了《福布斯》赞助的“品牌之声”(BrandVoice)项目。《纽约时报》出版人小亚瑟•苏兹伯格也表示,报刊网站上的软广告都清楚地打了标签,以便确保读者明白“什么是《纽约时报》的新闻报道,什么是广告”。

    In recent years, a debate has raged on among publishing and advertising industry insiders over “sponsored content”—more recently called “native advertising” and once known as “advertorial”—the sort of advertising that looks very much like editorial content but is, in fact, directly paid for by an advertiser.

    The approach has been embraced by newer digital ventures such as BuzzFeed and new digital efforts for very old publications like Forbes and The Atlantic. Industry peers watched and discussed: Is it deceptive? Is it ethical? Does it even work?

    Whatever the answers, there’s no denying that the approach is suddenly in vogue. Storied news organizations such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times NYT have since taken the native plunge. (Fortune has also decided to engage in the practice.) Last year, advertisers spent $2.4 billion on native ads, a 77% jump over 2012. That same year, the Post’s CRO called native ads “a spiritual journey.” (Really.)

    Native ads may be popular with publishers, but consumers are not in love, according to a new survey conducted by Contently, a startup that connects brands with writers who then create sponsored content. (Yes, the survey runs counter to Contently’s mission; more on that in a moment.)

    Two-thirds of the survey’s respondents said they felt deceived when they realized an article or video was sponsored by a brand. Just over half said they didn’t trust branded content, regardless of what it was about. Fifty-nine percent said they believe that a news site that runs sponsored content loses credibility—although they also said they view branded content as slightly more trustworthy than Fox News.

    Publishers and advertisers tend to respond to concerns of confusion or credibility with the same response: “It’s clearly labeled!” Simple disclosure solves all conflicts, they suggest. Readers are smart enough to figure it out, and critics don’t give them enough credit.

    To wit: “They get the drill,” said Lewis Dvorkin, the True/Slant founder who led the massive expansion of the Forbes contributor network and its sponsored BrandVoice program, at an event last year. Likewise, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has said the native ads on the newspaper’s website are clearly labeled to ensure there are no doubts about “what is Times journalism and what is advertising.”

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