Back in the day when I was a reporter at a local newspaper in Sweden there were total isolation between advertising department and editorial staff. We're talking the 80s here. Us journalists were very proud of our independence and distance from the "moneyside" of media. We could definitely not be bought. I'm not saying that today's' journalists can be bought, but the media landscape is oh, so much more confusing these days. Content marketing and native advertising is everywhere: Reporters at leading Swedish dailies Aftonbladet and Expressen will be producing native advertising content on behalf of advertisers. H&M is doing fashion TV with Metro, IDG journalists are producing editorial content on behalf of IT company Tieto, posted on the IDG website.
It does open opportunities for PR, advertising and marketing folks. Fredrik Blomberg, CD at ad agency Doe Blomberg and Gottberg in Sweden describes it as a "confused sector in the middle of a creative revolution" (The link to an English version via Google Translate).
He suggests that we all should start by finding "the story" and then tag a suitable company to it, rather than using product USPs as the starting point. Most products are very similar anyway and simply focusing on product features and price is not going to work in the future with already advertising tired audiences.
James Cooper from UK agency Ascendant Communications have some interestingconcerns regarding the development on the UK media market and European PR market which shows a blurring of lines. So far the discussion in Sweden has been mostly about opportunities with native advertising and content marketing and the disagreements have been on who is the owner of content marketing; ad agencies or PR agencies? But isn't there a bigger concern?
Despite one article in national daily Dagens Nyheter (again the link via Google Translate to English) about how advertising is finding new ways into editorial content it has not sparked a wider debate. The key thing everyone is pointing out is that it has to be clear who the sender is. But is this enough? Can the public distinguish between what is editorial content and what is advertising and marketing? Can we who are in the business? Do the public care whether it's advertising or editorial, and does it matter whether they care or not?
I totally understand media has to make money somehow, and I do appreciate the opportunities this opens up for people like myself, but even so, today's media, not just owners but also journalists, seem to be more concerned about economy than integrity, and in the long run that is a scary thought