Content Is Not Advertising

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Sadly, many people believe that content is the new advertising. I don’t.

The other week, I was interviewed by Rich Brooks for his Agents of Change Podcast (it runs about 30 minutes long). Do start the interview off, I was asked if content is the new advertising? This was my response:

No. In the past, I never said “content is the new advertising,” if I did, I’d probably write an article saying how wrong I was. I do believe that content is media. Content and advertising are two very different things. People think advertising is dead because of social media, or messaging apps, and it’s just not true. Not that long ago, advertising was a $400 billion business, and currently it’s over $900 billion. So, it’s actually grown – if not doubled – the ability for a brand to pay to have access to an audience. Plus, the myriad of places these brands can advertise with different types of media formats has increased as well. Every platform and channel now looks at ways to monetize their business model, and they allow themselves to rely on ad-supported initiatives for their revenue.

What has changed is this: how brands create ads.

The types of creative they can do has expanded and gone into different areas. Some of that creative looks a lot like content. Paying for attention is the core advertising. Content can work without the paid component. Content can be very effective, when brands think of a content distribution strategy. I don’t just blog at Six Pixels Of Separation, record my podcast and pray that people come to me every day (or every week). What I actually do is I publish in other places (Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, write books, speak on stage, publish to Facebook Notes, Medium or LinkedIn), and I’m using those areas to access and create awareness with other types of audiences, that may not be so inclined to come to my blog or to my podcast, with the frequency with which I publish. With that, I can also add a layer of advertising on to that. If I’m writing on Facebook Notes, I can boost post that by paying for it to reach more of an audience. If I am doing something on Medium, that I think is really valuable, I can invoke Google Adwords to draw attention to it. So, I believe that advertising and content are very separate things, and my concern is that the two should not be confused or become inter-changeable. Sadly, a lot of the content that I see from brands on places like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, still feels more like an ad, than like valuable content. I have a snobby nose, and I poke it up into the air with a holier than thou attitude when I see brands trying to push off an ad as valuable content.

Do you agree? Where is content and media going?

You can listen to the full interview, right here: Agents of Change – Where Should You Publish Your Best Content – Mitch Joel.