Native advertising. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until recently when I clicked on a link about native advertising thinking it was going to be something about Native Americans. I wasn’t even close. The term means a blending of news and advertising in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Click on any “news” site today, and you’ll be flooded with lists: ten foods you must eat to be healthy, seven foods to avoid at all cost, eight ways to look younger, etc. It can be difficult to determine whether or not an article happens to be funded by one or more of the things it promotes, but the chances are high that it is, even if the piece is running on (previously) venerable sites like Time Magazine and The Atlantic. In fact, after The Atlantic ran a native ad, also called “sponsored content,” about Scientology, the outcry prompted The Atlantic to revise their native-ad guidelines. It also prompted a very funny piece in The Onion.
Native ads are just one part of the way our lives are driven by public opinion and social media. In his wonderfully funny and scarily prescient novel, Corrupting Dr. Nice, John Kessel creates a world where the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a trial is decided in large part by polling and factoring in public opinion. When I read the book in 1997, I had no idea just how close we actually were to that scenario. Not yet twenty years later, we click on our favorite sites to see today’s candidates for admiration and for condemnation, to discover today’s picks for public shaming. Careers are made; careers are destroyed and straining truth from the silt in the flood waters is pretty much a hopeless proposition.
Between native advertising and social media’s racing from one cause to another,we’re flooded with information—or perhaps disinformation. As Theodore Roszak famously wrote, “Data data everywhere but not a thought to think.” Not a thought to think except what we’re told to think by posts that may be based on fact or may be just another form of native advertising.
All of this was on my mind when I wrote Bad-Mouthed, the fourth Doodlebugged mystery.
Of course, Doodle, the labradoodle narrator of the Doodlebugged mysteries, doesn’t know and certainly doesn’t care much about social media or advertising, native of not. Being a dog, he takes things literally. Truth is to be found in scents, in body language, in tone of voice. But mostly in scents. If false news had an odor, Doodle would be all over it. For example, Bad-Mouthed, the fourth book in the series opens with Doodle onstage in a Christmas pageant, when his nose tells him something:
“I smell a rat. That’s a phrase that humans use to mean something isn’t right, at least that’s what I gather from the TV shows Molly watches, but I mean that I smell a rat, a live one, and he’s not very far away.”
Doodle never doubts his nose. But when he takes definitive action against the rat, he throws the boss and Molly into a spotlight, a place where the videos of a popular blogger might end up destroying the boss’s business.
Bad-Mouthed is available for preorder and will be on sale on Dec. 3rd from most retailers. Sign up for my newsletter here (no spam or address sharing ever, I promise) and be the first to know about new releases.
Meanwhile, Laurel Fork Press is currently running a promotion of Bed-Bugged, the first Doodlebugged mystery. For a limited time, you can get a copy for free on almost any site and learn just how Doodle got himself into the bed-bug detection business, and, more importantly, how he met the boss and Molly.
Is this native advertising? Nah, it’s straight promotion. But keep an eye out for the next MSN news article, “Six Books About Labradoodles That Will Help You Lose Weight and Find Romance.” Bad-Mouthed just might be mentioned! 🙂
And here’s my list of Four Books That Would Make GREAT Christmas Presents:
BED-BUGGED: “. . . delightful, briskly paced, with appealing characters, especially Doodle. Kroupa’s knowledge of, and love for, dogs shines through every scene.” –Sherwood Smith, Goodreads Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Kobo ◊ iTunes
OUT-SNIFFED: “. .warmhearted and funny but never superficial. . . I haven’t met a fictional character in a long time that I enjoyed melding my mind with as much as Doodle.“—Mary Jo Rabe, Amazon.com
DOG-NABBED: “. . . the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and laugh-out-loud doggy observations. Completely delightful from beginning to end.” –Virginia Smith, best-selling author of the Falsely Accused Series. Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Kobo ◊ iTunes
Who knew chasing a rat in the middle of a Christmas pageant could cause so much trouble? Certainly not Doodle, the obedience-impaired labradoodle who works for “the boss,” Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection, nor Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter. But then Doodle’s the first to admit he doesn’t quite get Christmas.
Doodle’s antics during the pageant draw the attention of a popular video-blogger, who asks to do a feature his on sniffer-dog skills. But when the blog airs, pretty much the opposite of what Molly and the boss expected, the boss’s phone rings off the hook with distraught customers who think Doodle’s bed bug “finds” can’t be trusted. Molly, searching for a way to set things right, befriends the blogger’s son, a boy alienated from his mother who wants only to go live with his father.
Throw in a handful of threatening letters, some lost dogs, and a devastating fire, and Molly and Doodle have their hands—well, in Doodle’s case, his paws—full finding out just who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.
A charming cozy for all seasons and for dog lovers of all ages.
Amazon ◊ Coming soon to other retailers