Ever feel surprised to see “a get-rich-quick” kind of sponsored article when you are browsing your favourite credible news source? You might ask yourself, “Why do they allowed such advertised content in the first place? Don’t they have an editor? And don’t they feel that such “so called” branded content may dampen the credibility of the news websites and media platforms today?”
Well, you are not alone.
The Rise of Branded Content in a Wrong Way
The rise of branded content advertising today has made it very hard for the consumers today to discern whether a news content is genuine or fake. Recently news reported that the rampant amount of fake news on Facebook newsfeed, about the recent US election may have some impact on the election results. It is not just in the Facebook newsfeed, bad quality articles are also seen on the rise via branded content advertising platforms today as well.
In one of my previous articles on content marketing, I mentioned that surveys and studies have shown that consumers believe what they read in the form of content more than that of an advertisement poster. This is a very powerful effect of content marketing which can be good and also be enthralling as well. This is because consumers may believe the misleading information is true.
On the other hand, advertisers today paid branded content platform to get their articles (good or bad; right or wrong) noticed on news websites. If the articles are great, fine. If the articles are wrong or just not credible, it may influence the consumers in a wrong way.
Therefore, as Consumers, We Need Know What Are Fake and Real News as well as Quality and Non-Quality Articles
Well, we can’t entirely point the fingers on sites such as Facebook newsfeed that unintentionally allow users to share fake news of the recent US election, consumers on the receiving end of the information, needs to discern whether the news is fake or real. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook also said according to a news report, “it’s always smart to bet that people can separate truth from lies for themselves, and that they know what issues matter to them, even as “we do our best” to remove hoaxes as they pop up.”
I cannot entirely agreed with what he said.
I Agreed That Consumers Are Smart When Reading the News
Due to the onslaught of information and branded content today, yes it is very important for the consumers to discern from the different types of content presented to them. Below are some areas a consumer can look into in order to discern an article.
Source of the News
What is the domain of the news article? From CNN.com or from CNNNN.com? Does it comes from reliable news sources or some tabloids or personal sites?
Are They Selling Stuff?
Is this a sponsored article? If it is a sponsored article, we have to know that the opinions and ideas presented in this article are 99% biased. The companies that shared this news with you want you to buy something from them.
Are The Information Too Good to Be True? Are There Exaggerated Words?
Those get-rich-quick sponsored articles may use some stock photo of a young man or young woman standing in front of a sports car or a private jet, with the title, “21 Year Old Became a Multi Millionaire in 6 Months! You Can Do it too by Reading This Secret Formula!” If you see such articles with too good to be true or exaggerated titles, ignore them!
What I Don’t Agree With Mark
i) They Were On Credible Websites
It looks like there are no control for fake news and low quality articles appearing credible news websites as well as Facebook newsfeed today. These articles confuse the consumers and they are still confusing them daily.
ii) They Have Been Repeated And Spread Multiple Times
The power of repetitive information to a person who has only one receiving source of information, will definitely influence that person. Perhaps the first or second time, he or she may not believe that. But if you show the same news to this person, ten times and many more times, he or she will have no choice but to believe it. As a consumer, it is important not to believe what you see from one source of information. Look out for more sources of information and make the judgement for yourself. To be a reliable news source especially when you have loyal customers who only read your articles on a daily basis, then it is your organisation’s responsibility to make sure the articles they read are of the best quality and truth.
iii) The Problem of Fake News and Bad Articles Can Be Resolved
Many years ago, during the infancy of the internet, we saw some similar information such as get-rich-quick websites on popular internet search engines. Over the years, search engines technology advances with better algorithms, quality content are almost 99% on the popular search engines especially on Google today. Click on Google news and you can see that most of the news articles are from credible sources. So, it is possible to cut away bad articles and the fake news with the better advanced algorithm.
I am no tech programming expert but I know that news sources can be screened before allowing them to publish their first article on the news platform. If the articles do not follow certain guidelines, then the particular news source as well as its articles can be automatically deleted in a matter of hours, minutes or even seconds! S
In summary, both the consumers and the news platform play important roles in managing content today, especially when it comes to discerning bad and good news from a pile of news; as well as bad and good sponsorted articles from a pile of sponsored articles. So, read carefully!