A network of tech bloggers are taken to task by Jeff Jarvis for lending their names to an advertising campaign without disclosing they were being paid to do so.
While theÂ tech writersÂ fightÂ over the ethics of what they’ve done, the rest of us might want toÂ think about trust.Â Some don’t see getting paid for advertising and not disclosingÂ has nothing to doÂ with credibility orÂ transparency. TV has been down this road, radio is still wandering around on it.Â Bloggers have been down this road, pay-for-posts are nowÂ called spam.Â It is estimated there will beÂ 100 million blogs online this year,Â if companies,Â marketersÂ andÂ bloggers can fool you, they will;Â making money is the standard of success.
At FM, our mission is to support independent website authors and audiences, by connecting them to marketers in an ongoing and robust conversation that feeds everyone involved.
The arguments are interesting, as is the timeline.Â Federated Media and some ofÂ it’s tech bloggers have been having this conversation for awhile. However, it’s taken Jarvis at Buzz Machine to turn over the rock.
WhatÂ would irk most readers includingÂ me is not thatÂ bloggers want to make money; but that companies and bloggersÂ are going to keep pushing boundaries, and there will be a ready group of bloggers happy to take adÂ money without disclosure -Â in as quick and painlessÂ a way as possible.
So ultimately, this is a cautionary tale for all bloggers who take ads: You must set your own boundaries and not let them be pushed. When you do â€” whatever those boundaries are â€” that is the very definition of selling out.
In each of these cases, the advertiserâ€™s effort is to get more closely associated with us, our content, our reputations, our brands.
Jarvis mentions that Federated Media attempted this months ago, and went so far as to allow* an editorÂ to put up an entry on Wikipedia about an advertising slogan a US company (Cisco)Â was using for branding. Wikipedia has removed the entry.
JarvisÂ has the detailsÂ inÂ a passionate andÂ succinct analysis of theÂ debate.
Check out the comments, some of the top tech writers in the US areÂ involved in this discussion.
*(John Battelle CEO of Federated Media: In fact, on the Cisco campaign, in now way did Cisco spam Wikipedia. They 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 Walesâ€™ advice on the matter) The entry was later put up on Wikipedia by one it its editors, independently.)
So,Â the companyÂ got their campaignÂ on WikipediaÂ with the knowledge of Federated Media,Â Cisco and the ‘editor.’ Who is this editor? AÂ employeeÂ of Cisco? A Federated Media paidÂ blogger? An unpaid volunteer at Wikepedia?Â
You decide whether or not this kind of advertisingÂ is the way to haveÂ an ‘honest conversation.’