The content argument does seem to matter to several ICSC members, who are weighing whether to push for a formal set of guidelines. “We are concerned about it,” said Steve Tippie, vp of licensing and market development for Tribune Media Services, who added that the ICSC is expected to meet to discuss the subject in a few weeks. “We do see bad content, inaccurate, or poorly written content squeezing out the good stuff.”
Tippie mentioned a recent example that involved his company’s announcement that the comic strip Little Orphan Annie was set to end. He noticed that an article about Annie written by Cathy Montville, Associated Content’s food and wine contributor, had cracked the top 10 during several searches he conducted.
“It was a cut-and-paste job, with tortured syntax,” he said. “It popped up above so many other rich, good articles about the Annie news. It’s very good that ICSC is at least raising the issue in a logical, rational way,” Tippie added. “They are not in a panic mood.”
Indeed, ICSC members don’t seem to want to come off as alarmist, or behind the media curve. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t do media buys with [an Associated Content or Demand Media], said Ken Zinn, digital marketing manager at P&G. “But P&G has really important brand names with good quality associated with them. We want to sponsor content of equal quality.”
Added Zinn: “I’m not certain of the quality of some of the content out there. I don’t want to sponsor content that was produced by someone who just has a high school education.”