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Monday, June 25, 2007

Federated Media Ads Controversy

Federated Media, which organized some ads here in the past, is currently being criticized for some of their ad campaigns: one controversy surrounds Microsoft’s “People Ready” campaign, and another one is about Cisco’s “Human Network” campaign. Nick Denton of Valleywag suggests that for the “Human Network” campaign, Cisco with FM’s knowledge even created a new Wikipedia entry. For these campaigns, the bloggers were asked to write little ad statements expanding on the campaign concept, like “I knew we were a people ready business, when I left to start GigaOM Inc.”

I wasn’t offered either of these two campaigns by FM, though I was offered something similar for Hakia’s “Better Search” campaign, which I rejected earlier this year because I didn’t want to lend my voice to an advertiser. In my opinion, and opinion on this varies, it risks blurring the line between content and advertisement; it makes it harder to see the natural voice of the blogger, and natural – not paid – conversations are supposed to be what blogs are about. I also still had a bad taste from the Snap ad campaign of last year, where I was asked to write an article at about how I think a search engine like Snap could do a successful launch... and while I fully disclosed this article as paid and wasn’t required to write about Snap, it still triggered a conversation in the forum that made me write about problems with Snap.
As with text link ads, paid reviews, or affiliate links in content, advertorial-like campaigns will likely stay controversial, and bloggers will have to make up their mind what’s true to their dream of this blogging thing... it’s nothing for me, anyway.

Update: FM’s John Battelle describes the background of the Wikipedia article creation different from what Nick Denton wrote, telling Jeff Jarvis: “[Cisco] wanted to post a wiki version of their definition, and naturally their first thought was Wikipedia. Thanks to input like yours and many others, they did it on Wikia, the commercial cousin to Wikipedia. In fact, they sought out Jimmy Wales’ advice on the matter. The entry was later put up on Wikipedia by one it its editors, independently.”


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