Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Price of Relevance and Symbiotic Relationships

Shamelessly borrowed from the worldwide info-web
Times have gotten pretty tough in Watch Town.  So tough that the old illusion of trying to call payola nothing more than an urban legend has blown by the wayside, and pay to play is now out dancing in the daylight in front of God and everyone, like it has no shame ; )

The larger outlets have charming ways to describe it:
Sponsored Content
Editorial Products 
Partner Content

There are, of course, financial considerations for the people who produce content. For many, this is a business. It is how they support themselves, pay the bills, keep going. And in a normal world, where everyone was playing by the same rules, it would probably work out.

In a normal world, if you wrote for a commercial (read fan/consumer) market, and brands felt that you had a solid (real) readership base, they would pay to advertise with you. Everyone's happy!  Hooray!

But then cunning and avarice reared their ugly twin-hydra heads and we were (all of us) collectively off to the races! With print media, distribution and estimated reach and readership is a somewhat knowable quantity. Digital is harder to accurately (and honestly) quantify. When click farmers are constantly promising thousands of followers and viewers in exchange for $10 US, and outlets are tracking MILLIONS of "unique" viewers, the water becomes beyond muddy. Up until 2 years ago, the big outlets were riding high. Advertising revenues were strong, and enough aspiring brands were willing to roll the dice to increase their exposure with the "editorial investment" of $500 or so. 

How do I know this?  As a brand representative I would contact the big outlets from time to time with a press release, and be told either "We don't cover this price point" (even though they would later cover something within $0.50 of what I sent them), or "It's not something we have time to cover, but maybe you could consider a sponsored post?".

And inevitably, just as the brands had to discover that there were too many other brands out there with not enough customers to buy their watches... the outlets covering them now have to learn that there are not enough brands with money to spend on their services for promotion. The problem with symbiotic relationships is that while one of the species benefits (the outlet), for the brand (in this instance the other species), the relationship may be positive, negative, or neutral. And sooner or later, if it is not viewed as necessary, that marketing expense will wither away.

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