Custom content and complaining about the weather

Wow.  I've been getting an earful for several weeks about the changes in B2B media,especially in the embedded, semi and electronics industry.  One might think it's Armegeddon.


One PR maven just came out and said that the efforts of companies like Cadence, Intel and Altera to produced independent content is a smoke screen and that they are "clearly" not objective.  And yet when I've heard the same thing from others, no one can produce any CLEAR evidence that the content is anything but objective... at least as objective as a human being can be.


Like climate change, humans have had a significant hand in creating the current environment and, like climate change scientists, there are those who say it needs to be reversed and those (like me) who say we need to adapt.  Why do I take that position?  Because no one knows how to reverse it.


Let me be very clear, here: unless advertisers decide to quadruple their ad buys, like, tomorrow, nothing is going to go back to the way it was.  Why quadruple? Because that's how much the advertising budgets have been cut since 1999.  To make up for that loss, media companies have had to identify new forms of revenue.  Sometimes it's in the form of selling placement of news releases in a box on the online page.  Sometimes it's in the form of selling space for "contributed" articles.  Sometimes it's in events.  Sometimes it's in custom content.


And here's the thing: Marcom and PR folks are MORE than willing to promote companies that way.  They are NOT willing, however, to quit working for companies that prefer NOT to by ad space.


Make no mistake, display advertising is what made journalism, PR and marcom effective for several decades.  But when it became possible to get news releases distributed "for free" on the internet and media companies started accepting brochures in the form of "contributed articles" in pay-for-play programs, the effectiveness of it all became questionable.


So we are faced with two possibilities: either force corporations to start advertising again and let other people be concerned about ethics, or learn how to adapt to the current environment that REQUIRES individual commitment to ethics.