Advertorials and Native Advertising

Advertorials and Native Advertising

MATT CUTTS: Hi, everybody. My name is Matt Cutts and
I work in the Web Spam team at Google. And I wanted to talk to you,
today, for a little while, about advertorials,
Native advertising and editorial content. So let’s start with the easiest stuff, editorial content. That’s the meat and potatoes
of whatever you’re writing. If you’re a blogger, it’s
the primary stuff you’re writing about. If you’re a newspaper, it’s
the news articles that you publish, online or in
your newspaper. I think people have a pretty
good sense about what editorial content is. So how about advertorial content
or native advertising? Well, it’s advertising. But it’s often the sort of
advertising that looks a little closer to editorial. But it, basically, means that
someone gave you some money, rather than you writing about
this, naturally, because you thought it was interesting
or because you wanted to. So why do I care about this? Why are we making a video
about this at all? Well, the reason is, certainly
within the Web Spam team, we’ve seen a little bit of
problems, where there’s been advertorial or native
advertising content or paid content that hasn’t really been
disclosed adequately, so that people realize that what
they were looking at was paid. So that’s a problem. We have had longstanding
guidance, since at least 2005, I think, that says, look, if you
pay for links, those links should not pass PageRank. And the reason is that Google,
for a very long time, and, in fact, everywhere on the web,
people have mostly treated links as editorial votes. They link to something because
it’s inspires passion in them. It’s something that’s
interesting. They want to share
it with friends. There’s some reason why they
want to highlight that particular link. Now, if someone were to come
to a newspaper reporter and say, I’m going to give you
some money, can you link within your editorial
story that you’re writing, your news article? That would be deceptive. People would not realize that
there was payment involved. And it would really
not be fair. So paid links, that pass PageRank, change the landscape. It makes it uneven, so that
people can’t compete on a level playing field. And that’s what we want to
ensure that we have on the web and, certainly, within
Google’s web index. So what are the guidelines for
advertorials or for native advertising? Well there’s two-fold things
that you should think about. The first is on the search
engine thing side of things. And search engine wise, you
should make sure that, if the links are paid, that is if money
changed hands in order for a link to be placed on a
website, that it should not flow PageRank. In essence, it shouldn’t affect search engine’s rankings. That’s no different than the
guidance we’ve had for years and years and years. Likewise, if you are doing
disclosure, you need to make sure that it’s clear
to people. So a good rule of thumb is
there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure. It shouldn’t be the case that
people have to dig around, buried in small print, or have
to click and look around a long time to find out, oh,
this content, that I’m reading, was actually paid. So why we’re talking
about this now. This isn’t a change in our
search engine policies, certainly not in the
Web Spam team. Well, the reason is that we’ve
seen some people who have not been doing it correctly. So we’ve seen, for example, in
the United Kingdom, a few sites that have been taking
money and writing articles that were paid, including
keyword rich anchor text in those articles, that flowed
PageRank, and then not telling anybody that those were
paid articles. And that’s the sort of thing
where, if a regular user happened to be reading your
website and didn’t know that it was paid, they’d really be
pretty frustrated and pretty angry when they found out
that it was paid. So we’ve taken action on
this sort of thing for years and years. And we’re going to keep
taking strong action. We do think it’s important to be
able to figure out whether something is paid or
not on the web. And it’s not just the
Web Spam team. It’s not just Search quality
and the Web Search results. The Google News team recently
published on their blog and said that, if you don’t provide
adequate disclosure of paid content, whether it
be native advertising, advertorials, whatever,
whenever there’s money changing hands, if users don’t
realize that sufficiently, because there’s not adequate
disclosure, the Google News team mentioned that they might
not only remove the paid content, but we’re willing
to go up to and including removing the publication
from Google News. So I think, if you look at
Google and you look at our policy on advertorials, it’s
been constant for the last several years. But we just want to reiterate
and make sure that people realize that this
can be an issue. If you are taking money and
posting content that people don’t realize is paid or it’s
not adequately disclosed, both to people and to search engines,
we are willing to take action on that, not just in
Google Search results, not just in the Web Spam team,
but also in Google News. And so that’s why it would
behoove people to have an abundance of caution whenever
they’re considering these things, to just make sure that
they do provide adequate disclosure and then it’s
abundantly clear to users what’s paid and what’s
not paid.


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    Bryan Krause

    Yes, Matt is getting paid to make the video and CNN pays someone to write the articles but they are paying them to produce the content, not influence the content that's written in the article. CNN covers what they think will get the most traction, not what someone pays them. There is a huge difference between paying someone to produce research article and paying someone to influence the content that goes into the article.

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    There's a difference between what Matt's doing in his video and what pay-per-post bloggers and other "advertorial" writers are doing…Google (the IP owners of the video) aren't selling anything of monetary value here. If anything, they have a vested interest in the opposite…saying nothing about advertorials, punishing sites, and "forcing people to buy Adwords".

    Yours is a straw person argument.

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    Antonio Ooi

    No, influence the "audience", not "content", and why CNN tries to get the most traction? — To drive audiences in order to get them paid. ALL are producing the content, regardless in what way, to get paid. Just influencing the content makes no sense but influencing the audiences make greater sense to all businessmen. Don't tell me SEO never mean business to Google.

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    google owns you. they are your slavemasters. do as they say or your site will be sent directly to page 7 of the search results. google is your boss so follow his rules or You're Fired!

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    Ryan Kampmeier

    You're describing a completely different business practice. Matt is talking about Blog A hiring Blog B to make an article with the sole purpose of linking back to Blog A. Matt is a Google employee making videos for Google…there isn't a second business involved.

    It's crazy to see all of the unwarranted hate on these videos.

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    A Consultant

    THANK YOU, MATT. Another on-point video that reinforces what Google has been saying all along: be transparent and quit trying to trick people into thinking the links are natural, matter-of-fact links. The RADIO industry got rid of PAYOLA a long time ago. This is pretty much the same thing. For all you SEO noobs out ther, STOP HATING on MATT. You don't know how lucky you are that he takes the time to make these videos. It's like getting to peek at the answer sheet. Thanks, Matt & SpamTeam

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    Steve Gould

    I get where you're coming from Matt but all those daft articles on eHow still seem to rank pretty high. Are they really not just advertorials? Whenever I click on one by mistake I cringe and think 'what the hell is that rubbish doing on the first page'

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    Andreas Ostheimer

    Good point Antonio. And what about Google only showing keywords (in Adwords) when paid but hiding them in Analytics when not paid? Googles new communism sucks – they are constantly breaking the rules (see lawsuits all over the place) and play the good guys.

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    Antonio Ooi

    Exactly Andreas, they just want to monopolize the PPC market by going through one whole BIG ROUND by hoping nobody will notice it and out of the sudden their potential competitors turn into spammy websites — you can only pay Adwords for links but not others. But why this happened? Because site quality can be very subjective and the only way for them to determine it is to go thru BACKLINKS — but how can those small startups gain substantial backlinks without paying others? Adwords?

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    If webmasters need to make it more clear who is paying to maintain sites then Google should too!

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    Darren Pinder

    Matt, am I right in thinking this has been directly addressed in the recent Penguin 2.0 algorithm update? I've seen a lot of mentions of advertorials cut, and personally seen a lot of free editorial links go toxic.

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    I don't think there should be a difference for google when it comes to "articles vs paid articles", most of everything is published with the intentions of earning money, so the ultimate decision should be left for the end consumer. Google should do it's best to fight spammy low quality content & not go after sites that offer real value. Keep serving people what they are looking for, don't try to be the judge!

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    Philip Zeplin

    I don't think it's any of Googles business, go to into what I post on my website, nor what someone else posts on their site, no matter if we have exchanged money (or anything else of value) or not. Show the real results, of what's on the internet. As long as it's good content, I don't see the issue. Fight spam, sure, but lately you've gone far beyond what a search engine should: Don't try and own the internet.

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    Samuel Liebermann

    What if a reporter had an all-covered trip to a car show of sports event that reporter covered? Are you going to remove the article from the Google news if not disclosed?

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    Mark Meyerson

    Does this apply to guest posts as well? With a guest post no money is changing hands so it is essentially editorial content and I would think that links would not have to be "nofollowed". Or will Google treat it the same as a 'sponsored post' ?

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    what if I paid them in giving them a product I didn't want anymore or paid them by washing their car or something?

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    The reason they're not aware of it is because Google doesn't charge for "top search results"…those are PPC ad placements. Maybe you should learn the difference before you comment.

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    Mike Hinshaw

    What if there is no payment and I just include the link out of kindness. How in hades does Google know if links are paid for or not? This is a BS approach just like Ad Sense!

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    Barbara Weibel

    I have spent the last 7 years building my travel blog, subsidizing it with my personal savings. I have never sold a sponsored post or taken a guest post. Any press trip that I take is fully and very visibly disclosed. When I write about the places I visit and the people I meet, I link to them – that's what the Internet is supposed to be about. Yet over the past few months I have lost 1/3 of my traffic, almost all of it in organic search. Can you explain that Matt?

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    Zack Williamson

    But there still so many sites that appear to be immune to these guidelines even after the Penguin 2.0… From what I can see in the SERPs, the first 6 spots were unaffected but those were the biggest violators of paid links.

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    Vibhu Satpaul

    I think if everything worked correctly even a paid can seem to be unpaid. That is where few sharp companies dont fall. I hope there is a pattern to recognize as most of the news is advertised.

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    Jimmy Wirsborg

    Guessing if you write an article you've been paid to do bits and pieces of it will not match to how you usually would do it. The link you put in might not be the exakt wording the company wants to rank for if you do the link yourself etc.

    I also think they'll make sure they rather have false negatives than false positives and rather not punish one guilty site if it means punishing innocent sites as well…

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    Dhruv Sharma

    sure, but this is pretty much an equivalent to paid links. which i assume you know, and dont approve.

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    Ronny Marx

    I'm wondering, how the Google robots want to detect automatically, which link/content is paid and which isn't. I guess it's nearly impossible – but you never know! 😉

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    Max url

    Breaking News 30th May 2050 – Google launches pre-emptive strikes aginst all SEO digital marketing agencies….

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    Matt Cutts doesnt know the feeling of living from paycheck to paycheck then all the sudden losing all your income because google "penalized you" for no reason.

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    thats right. no one link their competitors in any field or business just because they have good content unless they are paid. only small weblogs may link to websites that have good content and since they are small blogs they often have low pagerank that dont help much. with this way of pagerank computing method in google they never find best content and they always do weird things for finding which links are paid

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    Rob Brideson

    I understand the level playing field aspect as in theory smaller budgeted businesses could get a reasonable airing without having to resort to attempting to leverage the search results through paid links. What I don't quite understand is how this also equates to Google Adwords. Surely this is the same thing as paid advertorials? It has to be a two way street. Some of the bids for keywords on Adwords are astronomical in certain industries and in many cases, unobtainable by smaller companies.

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    Rob Brideson

    I have to agree with Barbara Weibel further down the page. I have a blog on my business website and do exactly the same as Barbara. So why, with meticulous SEO have I, like many, lost so much rank as to end up on 3rd-4th page from 1st. I had a customer recently who commented that they couldn't find me on the 1st page so they weren't prepared to do business with me and I follow white hat SEO to the letter.

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    Rob Brideson

    TastyThailand, I tend to agree with you. I started Bing Webmaster tools a couple of months ago and thought then that I would probably fair better on there. I am going to look at their Adwords equivalent and see what transpires. It is not just for me but for my customers too, even they are fast becoming disenfranchised with the Google experience. Impressive videos of your flooding by the way.

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    Graham Ginsberg

    Just sick what Google is going to destroy the web and capture whatever money it can and trash the competition. I see a short life span left for the greedy company. We need a new search engine to compete. Ideas?

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    Alex Gilmore

    It never ceases to amaze me at the hypocrisy of Google. The other day my client called me and asked why I have links going to Google ads on their site and I said there are only ones you had approved and none go to Google. But when I went to the site there were links on various keywords all over the page and they went to Goggle ads. This is extremely deceptive since they hijack your website for them to make money without. Google the self proclaimed Benevolent but evil overlord of the internet .

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    Alex Gilmore

    I have been analyzing Google from the very beginning. In the last three years our Self Proclaimed Benevolent Overlord of the Internet but in reality an Evil Overlord has a prime directive. When you really sit down and think about all algorithm updates, along with the linking of Google + to your local businesses, and their diminishing PPC revenue you will really see what they are after. They want to make SEO as costly as PPC plus make businesses completely dependent on them for survival.

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    Mike Hinshaw

    Jimmy I am a brand new blogger, approximately three months in the industry. I have not received one penny for any of my Posts/articles with or without links included. I had a bad experience with Google and Ad Sense a couple of years back with a personal blog that wasn't regular or successful and I know they "assume" a great deal in their judgment process. I just don't want them shutting me down, if in reality I am not receiving any payment!

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    James Bone

    The issue for Google is not whether the "public" knows whether the content is paid its whether Google knows whether the content is paid. Google has become the judge and jury on the web. Google wants to know so that they can sell this information using their algorithms. This is not altruistic it is business plain and simple. Not sure Google should become the arbiter of all things on the web some independent group must be formed to resolve these issues. Governmental or consortia not Google!

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    Darren M. Meade

    I think a lot of people and I would put myself in this category always assume that large media companies and journalist have a could of ethics and fact check. a Native Advertising aka 'incentive-based entrepreneurial journalism', has changed that. Forbes recently hired over 1000 of what they call 'contributors' who are paid shills or brand assassins. The articles written by the contributors have no editors, the pieces are written and the public has no idea.

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    Darren M. Meade

    Hi John, his words are true. To make revenue, media companies are now creating advertorials without telling its readers. It is all based on ad revenues because the banner ads and so forth are declining.

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    Ann Smarty

    Following your logic, I don't understand what the publisher of a guest post is getting in terms of "monetary value exchange" then? Why would he need to tag it as a sponsored post as he didn't get anything 🙂

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    Chris Bolton

    Hmm. Do you think Matt Cutts was paid to make this video? It's just a hunch, but I have a feeling he's endorsing Google. 🙂

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    Dave Keys

    So let me get this straight. If content is paid to be written, or if something isn't written because, "Kum Ba Ya, I feel like blogging about karma today." A link should not count or even be created? In other words, money should only change hands when people buy ads from Google?

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    Darren M. Meade

    James, I disagree. Forbes Media allows you to pay $50,000-100,000 and you can write, edit and publish anything you want. Or, you can payoff one of the new 1,000 contributors who then become shills or will attack a competing brand, For news media companies obsessed with journalistic integrity (some still do) penalizing such advertorials evens the playing field.

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    Darren M. Meade

    Native Advertising is the politically correct term for Advertorial. Places like Forbes, Atlantic Media and Washington Post have created a paid blogosphere but still trade on the public perception that they a news media.

    Internet scams can operate at will. For instance, a 'contributor' at Forbes is in charge of writing for start-ups, he then interviews a known internet con-man who sells a get rich quick platform of which the contributor is paid a commission. Reader believe it is a real article.

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    Darren M. Meade

    … Forbes Media and the Washington Post. Take for instance Forbes Media, whose partners is a Venture Capital firm. Forbes writers now write articles and place links in those articles selling products to companies owned by the VC firm and also attacking competitors to the VC firm, that is wrong.

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    Darren M. Meade

    Hi Lan Thomas, congratulations on all 800 pages on the first page of Yahoo. Can you please send me your domain as I would like to see what you are talking about in regards to the difference of Yahoo vs Google.

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    No Matt. Someone did not give me money to post their link. I don't get paid 1st. But later only a few cents after x amount is earned just like Adsense which means a high volume matters which could take several months to acquire. Life is only 30 days long! So if CNN has a news article with an affiliate link in them you will not post it? Google knows NOTHING is paid content up front. You are ruining it for individuals by implying an ad is paid 1st before it is posted on a site.

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    That's right Kloonike. Why is it ok for big corps to decide all of us consumers are stupid with no education at all. That is what such implications mean. When someone looks at my site I feel they are educated enough to read it and make their own decisions about whatever they want on it. I also tell them it is part of making a living to pay all the politics in life too. What I write is really my opinion whether it is an affiliate link or not. That integrity matters too.

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    Governmental? Are you serious? Can you imagine government be the judge of the internet? No thank you sir.

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    John Susko

    So this 'Cutts' guy can read minds? He "magically" knows what a 'regular person' will think and feel upon realizing they just read some paid content? From whence does this amazing ability flow Matt? How can you read our minds at a distance like that, and even more amazing, you can read user's minds in the future no less! You are clearly wasting your time a Google when you could have an awesome position in a carnival sideshow – guessing ages and weights and such. Seriously!

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    Spook SEO

    Google just likes to make examples of a few high profile websites and newspapers now and then. 99% of sites taking payment for posts fly right under Google's radar.

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    Dejan Toteff

    I really love that info! My question is should the text "Paid Link" be left as a text or we should embed it within the article image. Can somebody answer please?

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    James Bone

    I didn't suggest that the government was the only option. I suggested two options and implied that others should be considered. But please explain to me why a for profit firm should govern what nonemployees do with their own web content or any intellectual property.

    Only the government has the authority to oversee, trademark, and secure intellectual property. No one firm should have the ability to define what is or is not appropriate.

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    Dino Dogan

    meh…HuffPost charges 80K for a sponsored story. They're not disclosing it. I'd like to see google crack down on that.

    While we're at it, politicians get paid by lobbyists and superpacks, and they're not disclosing it. Actors are getting paid by brands and they're not disclosing it.

    The whole "sponsored post" model is kinda shitty if you ask me. "Fixing" it seams like a reasonable thing to do but I think the model itself is a failure and there are better ways for bloggers to make money.

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    Ann Smarty

    You are not talking about guest blogging, I am sorry. I'll give you a simple example since you are obviously missing my point while getting personal for some reason. So I am a contributor for Small Biz Trends: smallbiztrends. com/author/ann-smarty – I link to my sites in my bio because I own them… Small Biz Trends publishes my content for free. So what to disclose here?

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    Chris Kameir

    Matt: Couldn't you make an argument for any page with Google AdSense on it is 'paid' content? Specifically because most of it was written only for that reason?
    So, do these pages still pass page rank?

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    Ben Landers

    Major magazines and media outlets have always said that advertising and editorial are treated like church and state. Anyone ever worked in or with people at those companies? Do you _really_ find that to be the case? Start with your local Gazette (that is probably owned by a much larger media company). See any correlation between those that advertise and the people used as references in editorial content?

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    Dylan Young

    That's great, and sure maybe that's the way it "Should" work, but we are talking about human nature here. If everyone followed the rules, then I'd want to do the same, but not everyone will, and so it's not a level playing field, so this system doesn't work. And there's no real logical way for Google to determine that an article is a paid endorsement, so this will never change.

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    Nick Massa

    Matt Cutts continues his FUD campaign. DAE feel like Google is so frustrated with their own algorithm that they want people to THINK they can tell all of these things?

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    Peter Sedesse

    Honestly, this is just one of those situations where white hat guys like me totally feel like Google is barking here. This is everywhere, in thousands of little sites… how can Google possibly tell that something is paid for? I think they can nail big newspapers, but there is nothing that can do about the stuff ´we´ have to deal with. I write about nutrition, and I see this everywhere in regards to vitamins… everything is ´advertorials´.. with do-follow links.

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    Vaclav Elias

    Actually, it is good video. Also, what Spoke SEO says is probably true but those 99% content is made by SEO companies as that is part of their packages…

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    Clint Dixon

    Google is becoming the Soup Nazi of search engines. The guy in the videos is a paid puppet who lies.

    Google is a tech company and knows full well which links are quality links and which links are not. If they cannot use technology to filter link value then why are their shares worth so much money. I can find a 1,000 computer programmers whom can write the algorithm to do so.

    Google is the largest propaganda based organization the world has ever seen!!

    Screw em.

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    Wow, Clint. You sound like you've got a pretty good business plan there. Go hire those 1000 computer programmers, have them write the algorithm, and put Google out of business! I can't wait to see your name in the headlines.

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    DONETStore DONETStore

    So if i constantly get guest authors to post their content on my sites in exchange to linking to them back? I don't take money for that. I need only original content. So how should i disclose that?

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    Question for Matt: how would Google treat editorial content that's made by brands? Example, a heartburn medicine has a doctor speak to the different kinds of heartburn. The content passes legal and medical review. The brand puts those videos up on their website and optimizes. The brand hires a PR firm to extend reach. The PR firm does not pay the publishers. The publishers take the video as editorial because it's the best information on the subject of heartburn. Is that paid, or editorial?

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    If money is changing hands, google god must be the receiving side. If you don't obey the rules, god may punish you.

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    Aff Dev

    Everything is clear as a sunny day. There only vendors and reviewers' sites will live. Vendor produces a product and pay to the Google AdWords for traffic. Reviewers make reviews and make money from ads at their sites and from Google AdSense. Affiliate market will die. Google is the only affiliate on the Internet, and all affiliates' money go to Google. Google decide what to advert and what would be the price.

    It is right if only Google don't take money for advertisement.

    Don't be evil.

  86. Post
    Ron Coleman

    One question: who died and made Google the boss of the internet? Nobody creates a website without the intention of making a profit and there is no reason Google should have a monopoly on making money on the web.

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    Ron Coleman

    The whole idea of judging popularity of a site by links is flawed in the first place. The links are placed by other websites, often competitors. How many visitors don't have websites and therefore can't create links. The Google algorhythm doesn't take them into account.

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    You don't even pay tax in the UK you Jokers.

    You need to keep your own house in order before you start spouting your rhetoric on Private Websites which you have no stake in.

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    Hmm so the editorial staff and journos all work for nothing do they? Aren't they getting paid to write, whatever they write!! Get with the real world.

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    Sander Lindenburg

    How should small publishers earn money with their websites according to Google? The Google adwords earnings have shrunk over the years…

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    Relevancy. Or websites should be created that are seen as authority publishing websites and any content on them should be viewed as editorial.

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    Dear Google,noone cares about ranking in your search engine anymore there are dozens of targeted traffic strategies out there that your input only matters to your adulators,you sold out the people and they now know who the worlds biggest Blackhatters are.

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    What about considering it an art form?

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    Zach Sherman's Informative Issues Channel

    I feel like this is a good move by Google. People deserve to know whether they are viewing a real article or native advertising.

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