I’ve been following Rebecca Lieb on Twitter for years. Her blog posts, though not rapid fire like many I’m subscribed to, are always useful and make my share list every time.

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Rebecca is strategic advisor, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.

Her books, The Truth About Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing, should be required reading for small business owners and marketing professionals.

And she always thanks me for tweeting links to her articles!

We love us some Rebecca Lieb at Wood Street. I think you’ll love her insights in this post!

Question One – Was John Oliver right about Native Advertising?

Recently John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, went on a tirade about Native Advertising. His comments centered around the separation of corporations and journalism, or church and state as he put it. What are your thoughts on his concerns and the current trend of native advertising?

It was a really funny piece, very enjoyable and very cutting, too. Oliver raised many of the concerns that have been swirling around native advertising and by dint of his wit and his platform, made it quite the topic of conversation.

For many of us, this isn’t a new debate, nor are the issues about the separation of church and state trivial.

I disagree with his central premise that native advertising is inherently evil and should be unilaterally stricken from all media companies’ advertising offerings. That just isn’t reality, or realistic.

Native has been part and parcel of publishing for decades (in traditional channels it’s called “advertorial”).

Banner ad prices are plummeting and native advertising is one way that digital publishers can continue to generate meaningful revenues that are essential to survival.

I’ve published research on the topic that addresses best practices for publishers, the top ones being transparency and crystal clear editorial policies around the church/state divide Oliver addresses.

We’ve danced this dance before, notably with search advertising and with word of mouth marketing. The guidelines are clear: err on the side of transparency and disclosure.

Every publisher offering native ad products (at last count, close to 100% of the members of the Online Publishing Association) must have clearly defined conflict of interest policies that are accessible to the public and clearly understood by both the editorial and publishing arms of the media property.

Failure to do this will kill the goose before it has the opportunity to try to lay any golden eggs.

Question Two – What will be the impact on marketers because of the “Internet of Things?”

The “Internet of Things” has been getting lots of buzz lately. We are now finding ways to connect just about everything to the Internet (I’m holding out for the smart immersion blender, I need that data!). How do you see this affecting small businesses and non-profits in the future?

I don’t know that this question can yet be limited in scope to small businesses and non-profits.

The Internet of Things is just emerging and beginning its upward trajectory on the disruption curve. How it affects business in general is very much in question.

I’m excited to be about to collaborate on a project spearheaded by my Altimeter Group colleague Jessica Groopman in which she’ll be researching new requirements for content springing up around the Internet of Things.

She’s going to be looking at what kind of content is needed for these newly interactive objects. Jess is just getting this work underway – you should check back with her this Fall!

Question Three – Why Am I’m Happy She’s Rejected This Question?

Spending on digital marketing continues to grow year after year. How can a small organization keep up with the spending power of the big boys? Is the democratization of the Internet gone for good?

Who says the democratization of the Internet is gone? It hadn’t checked out last time I checked.

Sure, there are more and more ways to spend on digital marketing: new channels, new forms of media, new advertising products.

But the Internet is also the ultimate David vs. Goliath arena when it comes to marketing, or publishing, that the world has ever known.

The web is a place where a local food truck cleverly leveraging a Twitter account can make as big an impact as the McDonald’s across the street. The case studies to support this are legion – I flat out reject the question! (sweet!)

The Little Guy Has Powers Too!

The Little Gal Has Powers Too!

Question Four – Is Net Neutrality Doomed?

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about Net Neutrality (another John Oliver rant worth watching). To me the concern seems to be the spending power of the corporate giants vs. the little guy. What’s your take on Net Neutrality?

I’ve been a staunch supporter of net neutrality for close to 10 years now. It’s an issue that no one who works in digital can afford to ignore.

I’m deeply disappointed that Barack Obama didn’t deliver on his campaign promise to assure net neutrality during his first term in office. If we lose it, then your previous question will begin to be a valid one: Goliath will have the edge on all the Davids on the web.

One aspect of net neutrality that has always shocked me, and continues to be an even bigger surprise as conversation around the issue heats up, is that even net neutrality’s staunchest supporters continue to also support the telcos and big cable conglomerates that are threatening a free and open internet.

I go out of my way to do business with those providers that aren’t on the wrong side of the issue and wish more Americans would vote on this important issue with their pocketbooks, not just by signing petitions and posting on social media (though that helps, too).

Question Five – How Do You Get Started with Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is nothing new. Your book on the subject was great! And it’s now almost 4 years old! And your posts on Content Marketing have always been a favorite of mine. For someone just venturing into this, what would your advice to them be?

Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher - How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media (Que Biz-Tech)

The book is three years old – please!  Because material does date so very quickly in this industry. But I did outline an approach in Content: The New Marketing Equation that seems to work well for many marketers.

In this report, we identify a five-stage content maturity process organizations go through. The first stage can pretty much be defined as “run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.” It’s a test and learn process.

But this very quickly moves on to a much more strategic approach in which processes, benchmarks and goals is applied to content marketing initiatives – in other words, building a strategic foundation to define objectives, measure success and optimize results.

You are, after all, doing this for a purpose, aren’t you? Content marketing can be a lot of fun and a very successful tactic, but much more so when strategy is behind it.

Bonus – You’re from Chicago but live in NYC… which one has better pizza?

Easy: Chicago for deep dish, NYC for slices. But to me, what really matters is authentic Thai food!

Wrong answer! It’s New York Style, period!

Jon-Mikel Bailey – Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.