Just read this good piece from Jack Marshall of Digiday discussing how brands are using content syndication platforms like Outbrain and Taboola to amplify third party “positive” content. He explains how McDonald’s bought ads to drive traffic to a positive article written about them in the Huffington Post. This is an excellent example of how converged media is being used to drive awareness about a brand in an attempt to influence or change behavior – the change in this case being that McDonald’s Fish McBites actually taste good.
He goes on to say this.
Users are more likely to be influenced by a New York Times review of a company’s product than by a blog post written by the company itself, the thinking goes.
In most cases, I would tend to agree but there are always exceptions to the rule. In my book I highlight a case study from electric car manufacturer, Tesla Motors.
In February 2013, New York Times reporter John Broder wrote a negative review about his experience driving the Tesla Model S electric vehicle. His article, “Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway” essentially made accusations that Tesla did not deliver on their brand promise, specifically around car performance and battery life.
Fast-forward three days, and the New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan said that she did find problems with Broder’s note-taking and judgment after his negative review of the Model S. So without specifically apologizing to Tesla Motors, she apologized.
The moral of this story is simple. Five or ten years ago, this would never have happened. Traditionally media companies like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal have had complete control over the hearts and minds of consumers. They monopolized our attention spans. They dominated the news cycle and could publish anything about any product or service without the worry of a rebuttal on any level. But the evolution, or I should say revolution, in today’s media landscape has changed that, and companies like Tesla Motors are now standing on equal ground with the mainstream media.