Content Marketing: Sunny with a Chance of Burritos?

by PR Coach on April 10, 2013

Twitter and Weather Channel sponsored tweets

Marketing forecast? Sunny with a chance of burritos

Who said content marketing isn’t fun? A recent Adweek story looked at three companies, including Taco Bell, who are buying real-time, mobile ads based on the weather.

Twitter and The Weather Channel were quick to recognize the growing revenue possibilities in mobile marketing. They announced a deal to create custom content based on the weather and sell it to eager marketers.

Using Twitter Cards technology, Ford recently promoted its Fusion cars prior to ESPN basketball games. Mashable says it’s easy to imagine State Farm insurance doing something similar with a hurricane in the forecast as it did during hurricane Sandy.

Promoted Tweets: Next Big Marketing Thing?

Sunny with a chance of burritos? Taco Bell thinks so. Heavy rains with the possibility of umbrellas? Ace Hardware has what you need. Hurricane in the forecast? Stock up with Evian bottled water, Twinkies and supplies at any number of possible retailers reaching out with sponsored tweets.

So how do promoted tweets work?

Taco Bell’s mobile ads will run in target markets on The Weather Channel’s app when the weather reaches 48°. In warm weather, consumers head outside for burritos or chalupas, says Eric Perko, associate media director at Digitas, Taco Bell’s digital agency.

Alter Clothing sponsored tweetHere’s a sponsored tweet from Alter, a Brooklyn clothing store. Apparently a winning campaign.

With 60% of Twitter’s huge audience coming from smartphones, the revenue possibilities are enormous.

I predict PR and public affairs people will quickly jump on this trend too. It’s got all the possibilities for interesting content marketing campaigns, information programs and even crisis management. But there’s also the risk of opening a Pandora’s box with not so happy outcomes.

Content Marketing Can Create Bad PR

The real danger is marketers themselves.

During hurricane Sandy American Apparel angered the Twitterverse with its newsjacking and insensitive sales ads. And who could forget Kenneth Cole’s famous tweets during the Egyptian Spring uprisings?

Some marketers seem unable to stop themselves from insensitive or inappropriate marketing during disasters. The results can be very bad PR or negative reputation impact.

Sponsored tweets are real-time communication at its best. They use the best of Twitter’s reach, its near-instant message capability and its targeting advantages. It’s got some marketers excited and watching for results.

The challenge, as Facebook has discovered, is that social media channels can’t be everything to everybody. If you load Twitter or Facebook with sponsored tweets, native advertising or brand journalism, you run the risk of alienating your audience.

Atlantic Scientology controversy

Atlantic Scientology sponsored content controversy

Users will begin to migrate elsewhere if advertising gets in the way of content or communication. Same challenge for Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. Get in my face and I’m outta here.

Traditional media are predictably excited about the revenue potential for sponsored content. But it’s a balancing act. Especially when there’s big money at play. Sometimes discretion goes straight out the window creating ethical and transparency issues for both advertisers and publishers.

Witness the recent furor over the Scientology-promoted content in the Atlantic magazine.

I love the possibilities of content marketing though when it involves superb storytelling. The New York Times long form story Snow Fall is a recent example of Transmedia storytelling that could  become sponsored content in print media.

As Mike Isaac at All Things D says, the marketing forecast is:

Cloudy with a chance of promoted tweets

What do you think? Will marketing go too far with sponsored content, native advertising, brand journalism, advertorials, content marketing or whatever you want to call it? Would love to hear your opinion or content below.

Author: Jeff Domansky, Quozio