You know how when you are an insider, you may have a more skeptical, possibly even skewed and cynical perspective on the subject at hand? As a blogger, and one who has been paid to be a part of campaigns, sponsorships, brand ambassadorships, advertorials, etc, until recently, I hadn't analyzed the full extent of it, and now that the marketing major in me has stirred, here we go:
What is the aim that brands have by using bloggers, and are their truly expectations manageable and measurable?
Furthermore, who exactly is targeted by using bloggers as part of an ad campaign or sponsorship? The obvious assumption is the readers, however, how do other bloggers feel about the blogger and brand collab on this? I've seen endorsements and ads featuring bloggers that have stretched beyond their blogs, and can be found across a blog network's ads, on big websites, and even in print advertising and magazines (for some examples, see the Lucky Style Collective, Natalie Suarez/Natalie Off Duty ‘s print TRESemmé ad, Christina Caradona/Trop Rouge in a YouTube video and print ads for Tampax; Scott Schuman/The Sartorialist for The GAP).
Sometimes I think that it is cool that brands are building relationships by using my blogging peers instead of professional models or celebrities, but at other times, the relationship seems a little too mismatched, forced, and transparent that the blogger did it just for the money while the brand didn't really line up with his/her blog-related ideology.
Campaigns featuring bloggers not found on their respective sites adds another dimension to the blogger + ad campaign question (see linked examples above). I'm really curious to learn what people tend to think who see these campaigns, especially if they don't follow blogs, or even that blog in particular. By removing the blogger from his/her blog in this setting, it certainly evolves the role of said blogger, and with a higher frequency of this occurring, will be shifting a blogger's occupation from a, well, blogger, to something a little harder to nail down: “TV or print personality,” expert, correspondent, ambassador, and perhaps, even a bit of celebrity…
With all this being said and done, is using bloggers an incentive to check out the brand and eventually buy the product? What is really being sold here – the idea/lifestyle that represents a blogger, an expert, or it someone that the customer can identify and relate with; a hybrid between a “real person” and a “celebrity,” appearing in an ad campaign?
It's true that being a blogger and using them in campaigns definitely has a very cool, “it” factor right now, but are the items that are being measured, like impressions, likes, retweets, or merely just the look of the person driving the exposure that the brands desire? Are the expectations on deliverables reasonable, and a win-win for both parties?
At the end of the day, it's all about revenue, directly or indirectly, and if the numbers aren't what they are projected or expected to be, then I can't imagine these collaborations being much more than a trend.
It's a complicated subject, and within the blogging community, as Jess Estrada pointed out this week in her post, “if you’re in any way making money or working with brands on your blog – yes, you’re a professional blogger,” which means at some point, you will encounter these opportunities, and will be responsible for providing the ascribed value, found on the site and through social media, or elsewhere. As I've discussed in the past, part of the allure of bloggers is planted in the assumption that they are “real,” and “genuine,” so in essence, capitalizing on this, and placing the context in the clearly fictional, desire-invoking world of advertising, is certainly an intriguing proposition, to say the very least!