Content Is Advertising, Advertising Is Content: Media Company Buys Ad Firm That Makes Good Content
from the that's-how-it-works dept
There’s an interesting Technology Review article about a new YouTube video campaign called ThinkR, which is trying to create videos of smart people talking about interesting things (think sort of TED-like, but a little flashier. and at least of the ones I’ve seen, with less substance). However, the Tech Review article highlights the oddity of an ad firm owned by a media firm making interesting content:
Here’s how Radical Media describes its “entertainment” division:
AS THE LINE BETWEEN advertising and entertainment blurs, our Entertainment division is a solution to a changing media landscape. In conjunction with our Design + Digital Group and Integrated Marketing team, we work closely with our agency, network, and brand partners to integrate their visions into the DNA of the content we create.
In addition to films and music videos, Radical Media also makes television commercials and, well, “transmedia.”
Here’s where it gets really confusing: While Radical Media is essentially an advertising firm, it was purchased in 2010 by the RTL Group, which owns 46 television channels and 9 radio stations and is Europe’s largest mass media company. In other words, a media company owns an advertising firm that moonlights as a media company. Huzzah!
It goes on to note that some of their videos… have advertisements before them, and it’s possible that “Radical Media produced both the “advertisement” and the “content”!” Of course, I’m not so sure why or if that’s all that surprising. As we’ve been pointing out for years, it’s not just that advertising is content, but that content is advertising as well. Good content always advertises something. Bad content doesn’t advertise anything, even if it’s designed as an “advertisement.”
Having an “ad agency” that knows how to make good content, first and foremost, is a lot more important than having a firm that knows how to make a “good advertisement.” If you can make good content, you can figure out how it advertises something and act accordingly. If you’re just focused on making a good advertisement, you’ll often make bad content. So I actually think it’s a good thing that ad companies and media companies are focusing on content first. I recognize the risk that many people worry about: that this makes “content” into something that’s more “advertorial,” but that’s not what we’re discussing here. It’s the exact opposite. Purely “advertorial” content isn’t good content. It’s deceptive and annoying. When the mix of content and advertising works, it’s because people want the content and actively seek it out (think Old Spice Man) rather than “hiding” an ad in the content — which is more likely to turn people off.
Somehow, these two ideas too often get conflated. But if everyone’s focused on creating good content first and foremost, that seems like a good thing — even if that content comes from “an advertising” firm.