“Promoted stories” on new sites continue to be a plague --- the stuff you see after reading more straight-forward journalistic content.
Stories with titles such as “You’ll never believe what this celebrity looks like now.” and “NFL players hot wives” are probably not the type of content many would assume to be associated with general news organizations.
Yet, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Time, The Guardian -- and many others -- continue to run some of this stuff. All in praise of advertising their client’s content.
CNN recently had blaring “stories” with the headlines: “Public addicted to outrageous site, enter any name,” coming from TruthFinder. “Billy Bush’s Net Worth Left America Speechless” from History Fanatic. There is another story about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
Fox News isn’t spared. Its Sponsored Stories included “Cow fats can not be regulated in California” and “19 Woodstock photos that will make your skin crawl.” MSNBC had, among other: “The fastest way to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt.”
Once again, it seems we have fallen into another digital media pothole — which pile on along with issues viewability and to a lesser degree fraud, and overall transparency.
Major news media brands don’t need this to be successful — especially when many traditional media with big brand value can glean even better ad revenues from digital video content -- one of the fastest-growing segments in digital media.
But imagine if that same paid content appeared on the bottom part of your TV screen when watching a TV news story on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, or other TV news outlets?
Would viewers have a problem with that? Oh, yeah. And traditional TV advertisers would have a fit, as well. Many continue to talk about ever higher linear TV advertising clutter, with their messages having an ever harder time rising above the overall noise.
Already, there has been growing levels of linear on-screen content — especially on news and sports TV channels. One would imagine the logic in the digital space among publishers could be: Well, what’s wrong with a little more?