I finally got around to reading Pete Blackshaw's intriguing article, "Protect the Marketing Commons." While I am not sure you can perfectly relate the idea of the "tragedy of the commons" to people's attention (commons in Harden's terms means a finite, bounded resource, like a field, which is certainly far more concete than "attention"), the idea we have reached a marketing-for-awareness saturation point is a valid concern. Pete says we need to come up with answers to the following questions:
- Definition of transparency. What do we really mean by "transparency"? More important, what do consumers think it means?
- Seeding and shilling.
What's the real cost of artificially seeding buzz or not fully
disclosing a consumer's relationship with a brand? Who's accountable?
- Sponsorship disclosure. How explicit should bloggers be about the nature of blog sponsorships? What's the cost of bloggers being labeled as shills?
- Product placement. Should there be some level of disclosure in product placement, perhaps starting with children? What's the cost of inaction?
- Truth in advertising. If a movie is advertised as starting at 2 p.m., when should it actually start? Do we have an obligation to disclose or compensate consumers for their attention?
Aside: I am not sure "transparency" is the right word to use for ethical disclosure of conflict of interests, etc. Aren't we trying to make things visible, apparent? Transparent is better than invisible, but perhaps that is just an interim step? Is transparent actually wishy-washy? A weasel-y half-measure? I don't know. What do you think?