Caveat Lector: Beware of irresponsible blogging!

Published: October 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm

A short note on how the lure of online revenue prompts bloggers to generate irresponsible content via sponsored native ads.  There are many ways in which online revenue can be generated. The most popular among them is to install Google Adsense and letting Google spy on your browsing habits and serve up “relevant ads”.  Although I personally dislike this, there is nothing irresponsible about this.

Affiliate marketing is another popular way to get commissions from product sellers. Whether this mode of revenue is irresponsible or not, depends on the way in the content is presented. Lines like, ” here is the review of a best product” followed by an affiliate link can repulse loyal readers. Very few bloggers manage to pull of affiliate marketing without coming across as greedy and partisan.

Banner ads is yet another way to generate a reasonable income. Here, the blogger sells advertising space to companies who host their banners for a fee. Nothing irresponsible about this too.

The reason I write this post is the latest buzz  in content marketing: Banners ads are out, and native ads are in, due to better engagement and conversion statistics. Native ads can get past ad-blockers!

A native ad is an article written about a product or service.  If a financial planner, distribution portal or insurance company writes a blog post about their products or services in their websites, it is called a native ad. There is nothing irresponsible about this too.

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Financial services firms approach bloggers to post their native ad (articles) for a fee. Some bloggers bother to mention, “this is a sponsored post” at the end of the article and some do not!  It is irresponsible to publish such articles without disclaimers.

Personal finance bloggers are not targetted for hosting native ads. Naive lifestyle bloggers, mommy bloggers, and the like are the soft targets. They know next to nothing about personal finance and these financial firms can write what they want in the native ad and get it published for a fee.  I have seen such posts with no disclaimers. Since only popular bloggers are solicited, there is decent engagement (comments) in such articles. The bloggers often answers  comments like it were a self-written post. typically endorsing the product/service. Mission accomplished for the firm!

Caveat lector.

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com

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