Advertising’s Next Big Thing: Walking Product Placements

Yes, advertisers are buying ads to bump up their promotion on your Facebook or Twitter newsfeed. But did you know that that companies are also paying bloggers hundreds of thousands of dollars to write about their products?

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Social media purists have spent years worrying about the rise of advertising on Twitter and Facebook. But most of the kvetching has focused on the conduct of Facebook and Twitter, which have been blasted for prioritizing sponsored content  by tinkering with the algorithms that position content on your newsfeed.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that companies are way past that kind of advertising on social media. Yes, advertisers are buying ads to bump up their promotions on your newsfeed. And yes, bloggers are feeling forced to buy digital ads from Facebook and Twitter to keep their stuff at the top of the pile on social media. But did you know that companies are also going directly to bloggers and paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars to write about their products and promote them on their blogs? It’s the next big thing in digital marketing, but you may not have noticed it because the promotions are weaved seamlessly into the daily fodder of popular bloggers, especially in the fashion, design and food worlds.

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It’s an issue the Federal Trade Commission tried to tackle recently by issuing rules requiring that bloggers label their promotional work. But in the story I wrote for this week’s print edition, some bloggers told me they don’t do disclosures because it looks awkward and doesn’t jive well with the tone of their blog. You can read more about the phenomenon here.

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