Some brands used to pay for articles in the old printed-press model; some of them now pay some users to post about how they love using their products (call them influencers), and some brands just pay people that already use their products and are respected authorities in their fields. These models evolve from the perspective of the authoritative person reccomending the product.
But what if starting a conversation about a problem lead to find how products fit or do no fit the needs? We are now quite in the philosophy of “the best” or “the right” product, as a one-size-not-only-fits-all-but-is-the-only-possible-solution.
If I were a small software bussines, whith a new product targeting a very specific problem in an area, I'd love to pay for a panel about products in that field, because I'd be very confident mine will benefit from public exposure. For example, I have been using word processors for years (since the 80's), but as soon as I was told about the problems Scrivener is solving when it comes for long text works (not just novels but also papers, essays, etc), I'm kind of an evangelist to my scientific friends as well as to those who love to write novels (disclaimer, this is not paid advertising).
I guess some more thought must be done on new business models, but also on new ways to spread the world why our product is better than some other… to solve the right problem 😉