What are bloggers and what should their role be? More specifically what is the role of bloggers in Hispanic Media? Unfortunately many bloggers are not only players in the content space but also in the marketing space.

In the age of Content Marketing and Social Media bloggers play a very important role for brand marketers. They produce and repurpose content to strengthen brand marketers’ messages in third party (earned) media and in corporate owned media (e.g custom websites).Often the content bloggers produce is biased. This is not surprising: Bloggers get paid in cash or with goods and services by their corporate sponsors. In fact, blogging is much more related to public relations than to traditional journalism. And that is where the problem lies: since blogging is a relatively new phenomenon readers give bloggers too much credibility. Readers think that bloggers produce unbiased content and that is not always the case.

Are some bloggers the only ones selling out to corporate interests? Of course not. Advertising and editorial departments of media properties constantly deal with the often conflicting goals of credible reporting and meeting advertisers’ demands. Advertisers have an influence on content when journalists allow their content to be driven by their desire to attract, or not repel, advertisers. Political critic Noam Chomsky described how corporate advertisers impact public opinion by influencing media properties in his popular book “Manufacturing Consent.”

The advent of digital media and so-called “native” advertising has blurred the line between editorial content and advertising even more. As Ben Kunz, VP of Strategic planning at Mediaassociates writes in Digiday, “Billions of banner ad impressions may annoy readers, but they don’t misdirect users by disguising the source of the message — and this is exactly what native advertising does. If publishers and marketers aren’t careful, they are going to poison the well of digital ad communications by breaking consumer trust.”

We welcome the guidelines for bloggers recently issued by the Federal Trade Commission. According to the new guidelines, bloggers must include the disclosure of their relationship with corporations at the bottom and the top of their posts. In addition, “any social media post that has been sponsored or obtained through free or discounted products, regardless of the channel or the poster, must also contain the words “ad,” or “sponsored.”

A regulated blogging environment will increase the credibility of both marketers and media targeting the Hispanic population.

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