Hey everybody, hope 2013 has gotten off to a great start.

I started the year feeling quite positive about some of the developments in the content marketing space.  Venerable news sites like the Atlantic started using interesting sponsored content feeds (like this one from Porsche) on their site–which sure beats banner advertising in my opinion.

Just yesterday however, the Atlantic started an online firestorm when they published (very) favorable sponsored content from Scientology–touting the accomplishments of David Miscavige.

Here is the advertorial content (or native advertising) example from the Atlantic.


Now, the content (native ad) on the Atlantic seems to have been taken down after an incredible firestorm and backlash from social media (Twitter in particular).  Here is what the website says:

We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor(ed) content and subsequent comment threads.

People expect balanced journalism from the Atlantic and when they see the Atlantic publish content for an organization that so many people distrust, they are putting their brand at risk.   Apparently the Atlantic also gave Scientology control over the comments section…ouch.

And now B2B

Switching to the B2B side, some brands that rely heavily on content marketing also need to tone it down a bit in 2013 in my opinion.  As I’ve started to comb the web for professional content this year, it feels like I’m seeing more “Call-to-action forms” (especially in the B2B space) etc. attempting to pull me into a content marketing funnel at every click.

“Complete this XY form to receive our free XY eBook/webinar/video, etc.” is a typical call-to action that we are all know and love (hate?)  As a marketer, I fully appreciate the value of strong call-to-actions for opt-in reasons, but as a consumer, I’m starting to get a bit annoyed with sites that constantly poke me for info as I try to read an article.

Many in the industry believe we are hitting a bit of a tipping point for content marketing.  Indeed, the term content marketing has been getting a lot more attention lately.  If you check Google search trends for the term, you’ll see a nice uptick in interest over the past couple of years.

As we head into 2013, expect to see more and more cases of experimentation in the content marketing space.  Let’s hope we don’t see more stumbles from great brands like the Atlantic again…