If you are going to sell your soul…

There’s another blogstorm about a new style of conversational advertising.

Let’s back up a second. First, I wasn’t approached for this advertising campaign. I’ve done similar ones, though, for Intel. Why didn’t I get called out? Cause I pointed out that I was doing such and what I was getting in return here on my blog. From what I can tell the first time we learned about this advertising campaign wasn’t from the bloggers themselves, but from Valleywag.

So, first rule of avoiding bad PR for taking money is DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE!

I personally didn’t have a problem with the campaign itself although I thought it was pretty lame. Last night when the campaign disappeared I saw the story change, though. That was a tacit admission that something was smelly with this campaign. It was getting negative commentary therefor it must be pulled. Whoever did that made a mistake.

Why do companies try to do this kind of advertising? Because of a few reasons:

1) Bloggers start conversations. If you want a conversation to get started in the world, one big way is to get bloggers to talk about you. I’m looking at my emails and I have more than 1,000 pitches from PR people all over the world who are HOPING I’ll write about them, their company’s products, or their news. Almost everything you see on TechMeme started as one of these press releases.
2) Bloggers are credible. Credible enough, at least, to start conversations and accelerate those conversations through the world. Recently a CEO told me that because he was on my show he got on Fox News because a Fox News producer was watching my show, liked what he had to say, and invited him onto Fox News. He said that really gave them a major shot in the arm. He’s been telling all his CEO friends that they should also get on my show. So now I’m getting nailed by even more PR firms.
3) Bloggers increasingly have influence. Almost everyone I know reads TechCrunch, or GigaOm, or Valleywag. How do I know that? Because at dinner parties, or whenever I meet geeks they bring stuff up that was discussed on TechCrunch. When Valleywag printed that I was looking for a job tons of people started emailing me (totally fabricated, which is why I generally don’t believe much I read on Valleywag), or Twittering me about whether or not I really was looking for a job. Companies are paying attention to that too and are trying to figure out how to get into these influence networks.
4) The professional journalists are moving in. Look at TechMeme on the average day. I usually see more “professional” “big brand” journalism names there than people who came through the blogging ranks like Mike Arrington or Peter Rojas. We’re all competing for the same advertising dollars now, and some are going hungry and, so, the pressure to do things “to pay payroll” is increasingly to sell your credibility.
5) Advertisers know banners don’t work as well as text. Heck, Google got to be the #1 brand and half as big as Microsoft by understanding that. If I did have advertising on my blog I know that the content stream is FAR more valuable than anything I put over in the navigation part of my blog. So, if advertisers come to me they increasingly are wanting to get access to my content stream.
6) Increasingly bloggers’ recommendations DO sell product. I’ve seen this over and over in my own life as people come up to me and tell me “I bought XYZ because you wrote about it.” Or “I tried that Web service because you said it was cool.” So, increasingly advertisers want their brands to be mentioned by, or associated in some way with bloggers. ScobleShow’s sponsor, Seagate, is very happy because it is associated with me. That increasingly gets them mentioned at conferences, gets them included in conversations, and at the recent CES got them in touch with far more other bloggers (and professional journalists) than they would have hadn’t had an association with a blogger.

So, anyway, there’s a lot of pressure on bloggers to put their names on advertising. This pressure has been there for years. After all, Microsoft hired me back in 2003. They saw the value of having a blogger associated with their brand way back then (and tons of companies have followed).

If this pressure is going to be there (it will), then what can bloggers do?

1) Disclose, disclose, disclose, and disclose some more. If even there’s a PERCEPTION that money is changing hands, gotta disclose. Valleywag keeps nagging me everytime I write about Adobe cause Adobe paid PodTech some small amount of money to do some podcasts a year ago. I gave them power over me by not being ultra clean and making sure everyone understood what PodTech was getting paid for and what I was getting paid for. I assumed that since that wasn’t paid to get influence over me, it didn’t need to be disclosed. It really did. That way my readers can figure out for themselves whether or not my writing is biased.
2) Make it very clear what is advertising speech and what is not. This is why I don’t like PayPerPost and other advertising schemes that get bloggers to talk. If you write something you’re getting paid to write it should have the word “ADVERTISEMENT” in the headline. If you don’t do that, well, then prepare to get thrown under the Valleywag bus.
3) Disclose EVERYTHING you’re getting paid for. Even if it isn’t on your blog. This is what gave this story some power. Dave Winer writes that he didn’t know about this practice.

Any other rules for selling your soul? I know some people say “don’t sell your soul in the first place.” Well, that doesn’t work either, at least for those of us who aren’t independently wealthy and increasingly it’s difficult to not take the money. I know some bloggers who have half the audience size I do that are getting paid $8,000 a month for advertising on his blog. Bloggers share those kinds of stories all the time. It’s incredibly difficult to turn down $8,000 a month, or even $2,000. All advertising is “selling your soul” at some level. Advertisers are buying advertising to get access to your audiences. If you don’t have an audience you don’t have to worry about this, but if you blog increasingly you’ll have to face this at some time or another. Even a free phone, or a free laptop is really advertising. Disclose that, too. Let your readers know your conflicts of interest.

I even disclose when I sell stock, or when I am going to own stock (I still own my Microsoft stock, for instance). Why? Because that’s a potential conflict of interest. If Valleywag ever finds out you own stock and you’re a blogger with a big enough audience expect to get thrown under the bus for that too. Why? Cause everytime Valleywag finds something that they can poke you with they get traffic. Hint, you are making Nick Denton richer everytime you give him something to say about you.

As for advertisers, come to PodTech and I’ll consult with you about how to get conversations started in the blogosphere without getting bloggers to sell their souls. There’s lots of ways to do that, but they require a bit more work on your behalf than the Microsoft “people ready” campaign did. I’m sure some people at Microsoft see this campaign as a success. After all, we’re all talking about it this morning. But I disagree.

Anyway, sorry for adding onto the blogstorm here, but thought it was important enough to add my $.02. What do you think?

Comments

  1. David: I agree. I totally was trying to ignore this because last night I thought it wasn’t worth writing about. The campaign in question didn’t ask the writers to endorse a Microsoft product, they just wanted some famous bloggers names on their campaign.

  2. David: I agree. I totally was trying to ignore this because last night I thought it wasn’t worth writing about. The campaign in question didn’t ask the writers to endorse a Microsoft product, they just wanted some famous bloggers names on their campaign.

  3. I don’t read Valleywag.Storm isn’t going to settle until valleywag and other similar sites don’t want visitors.

    Your 6th point is quite true.You make products or services sell.I use delicious,twitter,Google Reader on your recommendations only.It’s nothing false in endorsing a product after disclosing it.

  4. I don’t read Valleywag.Storm isn’t going to settle until valleywag and other similar sites don’t want visitors.

    Your 6th point is quite true.You make products or services sell.I use delicious,twitter,Google Reader on your recommendations only.It’s nothing false in endorsing a product after disclosing it.

  5. http://www.reviewme.com/

    Interesting. Here’s my thought. These people want money right?
    Why don’t they just go get a job?
    I’ve heard of starving artists but starving bloggers?
    Put on the Colonel’s hat and go cook some fried chicken already!

    They’ll make way more than a hundred bucks or so a week.
    If you finished college and wound up as an unsuccessful blogger getting income scraps off of reviewme.com, I would say it’s time to do some thinking about your life.

  6. http://www.reviewme.com/

    Interesting. Here’s my thought. These people want money right?
    Why don’t they just go get a job?
    I’ve heard of starving artists but starving bloggers?
    Put on the Colonel’s hat and go cook some fried chicken already!

    They’ll make way more than a hundred bucks or so a week.
    If you finished college and wound up as an unsuccessful blogger getting income scraps off of reviewme.com, I would say it’s time to do some thinking about your life.

  7. I am not sure about this being such a big deal. It’s not like they wrote big posts praising the hell out of Microsoft. Obviously, they were endorsing the microsoft campaign. Nothing really wrong with that. Should they have disclosed? Probably, but it was rather obvious too wasn’t it?

    It’s all a gray area, and while I am not sure this deserves the attention it’s getting, we also need to figure out what the blogger boundaries are, before some real money and ethics issues create the mother of all firestorms.

  8. I am not sure about this being such a big deal. It’s not like they wrote big posts praising the hell out of Microsoft. Obviously, they were endorsing the microsoft campaign. Nothing really wrong with that. Should they have disclosed? Probably, but it was rather obvious too wasn’t it?

    It’s all a gray area, and while I am not sure this deserves the attention it’s getting, we also need to figure out what the blogger boundaries are, before some real money and ethics issues create the mother of all firestorms.

  9. Exactly Robert-Disclosure is everything. This raises the question though..if you have to disclose, does the campaign work? That WalMart Across America debacle..would that have even been launched if they had to reveal it was a WalMart sponsored campaign? Would Arrington’s use of the term be seen as MORE credible if he admitted being paid for using it?

    The sad fact is a lot of these campaigns are based on deception…and based on your other point, that bloggers are considered credible (and above this astroturfing shit).

    I’ve always appreciated your being upfront about stuff like Seagate, etc. This Microsoft “conversation” talking points thing just doesn’t pass the smell test.

  10. Exactly Robert-Disclosure is everything. This raises the question though..if you have to disclose, does the campaign work? That WalMart Across America debacle..would that have even been launched if they had to reveal it was a WalMart sponsored campaign? Would Arrington’s use of the term be seen as MORE credible if he admitted being paid for using it?

    The sad fact is a lot of these campaigns are based on deception…and based on your other point, that bloggers are considered credible (and above this astroturfing shit).

    I’ve always appreciated your being upfront about stuff like Seagate, etc. This Microsoft “conversation” talking points thing just doesn’t pass the smell test.

  11. The point is that a professional journalist would not take part in a commercial campaign, paid for or not – can you imagine Walt Mossberg doing something like this? Should we hold bloggers to lower standards of behaviour, while proclaiming – as you do – that they are “credible”?

  12. The point is that a professional journalist would not take part in a commercial campaign, paid for or not – can you imagine Walt Mossberg doing something like this? Should we hold bloggers to lower standards of behaviour, while proclaiming – as you do – that they are “credible”?

  13. Actually, is this really a new thing from Microsoft??
    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=
    “I don’t like it to be public on the doc that we sponsored it because I don’t think the outcome is as favorable as we had hoped.”

    MS has been deceiving people in white papers for years now.
    Wasn’t it only a matter of time before they would try to do it with bloggers and journalists?

    And what about this?
    http://marshallk.com/microsoft-wants-its-laptops-back

    Perhaps the problem isn’t the bloggers. Perhaps it’s Microsoft.

  14. Actually, is this really a new thing from Microsoft??
    http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=M4CP1WYSQ1WXSQSNDLPSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=197002546&subSection=
    “I don’t like it to be public on the doc that we sponsored it because I don’t think the outcome is as favorable as we had hoped.”

    MS has been deceiving people in white papers for years now.
    Wasn’t it only a matter of time before they would try to do it with bloggers and journalists?

    And what about this?
    http://marshallk.com/microsoft-wants-its-laptops-back

    Perhaps the problem isn’t the bloggers. Perhaps it’s Microsoft.

  15. Microsoft pay’s McCann-Erickson Worldwide for advertising, but this job has the look and feel of Edelman PR’s Me2Revolution.

  16. Microsoft pay’s McCann-Erickson Worldwide for advertising, but this job has the look and feel of Edelman PR’s Me2Revolution.

  17. “The campaign in question didn’t ask the writers to endorse a Microsoft product, they just wanted some famous bloggers names on their campaign.”

    Are you serious? ARE YOU REALLY SERIOUS?

  18. “The campaign in question didn’t ask the writers to endorse a Microsoft product, they just wanted some famous bloggers names on their campaign.”

    Are you serious? ARE YOU REALLY SERIOUS?

  19. It doesn’t matter. If you read the blog and take their word as gospel.. We’re adults we need to think for our selves, and take every thing we read and watch with a grain of skepticisms.

  20. It doesn’t matter. If you read the blog and take their word as gospel.. We’re adults we need to think for our selves, and take every thing we read and watch with a grain of skepticisms.

  21. Cartoonists have these same issues as bloggers. Cartoons were actually invented to attract eyeballs to newspapers full of advertisers. But now papers are dying and cartoonists must increasingly go directly to readers. So how do they get paid when the newspapers that once paid them are no longer doing so? Product placement within cartoons? Not my first choice.

    Same with bloggers. Newspaper paid reporters. Who pays independent bloggers?

    I’ll tell you what I think the answer is. We need advertising that is targeted to the reader directly, that the blogger and the cartoonist have nothing at all to do with, or even necessarily know about.

    That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts. There has to be a more sophisticated way to get highly targeted ads to people who would actually appreciate seeing them.

    If I’m in the market for a new car, then I would actually appreciate viewing car ads. If I’m about to have a baby, then that brings up a whole other list of possibilities: Babies R Us, life insurance, maternity clothing… Why force people to see ads taht aren’t relevant to them?? That’s a heck of a lot of wasted money.

    Essentially, it will mean turning advertising from an annoying intrusion into an appreciated service, while maintaining privacy for the reader. Even with my limited tech knowledge, I know it’s possible. What I don’t know is how come nobody is doing it yet. Whoever is first will get megarich.

  22. Cartoonists have these same issues as bloggers. Cartoons were actually invented to attract eyeballs to newspapers full of advertisers. But now papers are dying and cartoonists must increasingly go directly to readers. So how do they get paid when the newspapers that once paid them are no longer doing so? Product placement within cartoons? Not my first choice.

    Same with bloggers. Newspaper paid reporters. Who pays independent bloggers?

    I’ll tell you what I think the answer is. We need advertising that is targeted to the reader directly, that the blogger and the cartoonist have nothing at all to do with, or even necessarily know about.

    That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts. There has to be a more sophisticated way to get highly targeted ads to people who would actually appreciate seeing them.

    If I’m in the market for a new car, then I would actually appreciate viewing car ads. If I’m about to have a baby, then that brings up a whole other list of possibilities: Babies R Us, life insurance, maternity clothing… Why force people to see ads taht aren’t relevant to them?? That’s a heck of a lot of wasted money.

    Essentially, it will mean turning advertising from an annoying intrusion into an appreciated service, while maintaining privacy for the reader. Even with my limited tech knowledge, I know it’s possible. What I don’t know is how come nobody is doing it yet. Whoever is first will get megarich.

  23. “That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts.”

    That’s the problem with the internet. People don’t value the internet as much as they value local media and print.
    Companies used to sell all sorts of service on the internet like email and other stuff. They can’t anymore. The internet is one big white board. It’s also the reason Wikipedia will never have the same weight as Britanica.

    The funny thing is that if these bloggers pooled together and made a cable channel like TechTV, they would make out like bandits. There’s an awfully high price to pay for being independent.

  24. “That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts.”

    That’s the problem with the internet. People don’t value the internet as much as they value local media and print.
    Companies used to sell all sorts of service on the internet like email and other stuff. They can’t anymore. The internet is one big white board. It’s also the reason Wikipedia will never have the same weight as Britanica.

    The funny thing is that if these bloggers pooled together and made a cable channel like TechTV, they would make out like bandits. There’s an awfully high price to pay for being independent.

  25. It seems to me Robert that you have an excellent reputation and that it is well-deserved. When I read your blog, I feel that I am getting your honest opinion. But, your point about disclose-disclose-disclose is so very important, regardless of how good one’s reputation is: a good reputation takes time and consistency to build, but can be destroyed almost overnight.

    Interesting, too, that you mention the pay-per-post blogs. There is one I used to like, before they went that route, but they no longer have any credibility with me. I even link to it from my site, but I do that because everybody reads not because I believe in it. But, now that I have read what I just wrote, it is wrong of me to have the link on my site, given the way I personally feel about it, so I am going from here to my admin panel and deleting it. It IS hard to be squeaky clean indeed, isn’t it?

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Not a problem for me as young as my blog is, but I hope I never forget the lesson.

  26. It seems to me Robert that you have an excellent reputation and that it is well-deserved. When I read your blog, I feel that I am getting your honest opinion. But, your point about disclose-disclose-disclose is so very important, regardless of how good one’s reputation is: a good reputation takes time and consistency to build, but can be destroyed almost overnight.

    Interesting, too, that you mention the pay-per-post blogs. There is one I used to like, before they went that route, but they no longer have any credibility with me. I even link to it from my site, but I do that because everybody reads not because I believe in it. But, now that I have read what I just wrote, it is wrong of me to have the link on my site, given the way I personally feel about it, so I am going from here to my admin panel and deleting it. It IS hard to be squeaky clean indeed, isn’t it?

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Not a problem for me as young as my blog is, but I hope I never forget the lesson.

  27. That’s a great entry Scobleizer! It’s amazing to me to think in the next century paper print is going the way of the dinosaur. Just like cigarette smoke start to go out of style in the late 1980’s.

    The dynamics of Adverts are changing so rapidly it’s like having a small child with ADD. If we can’t get them on banners just put the ad’s in front of what there reading.

  28. That’s a great entry Scobleizer! It’s amazing to me to think in the next century paper print is going the way of the dinosaur. Just like cigarette smoke start to go out of style in the late 1980’s.

    The dynamics of Adverts are changing so rapidly it’s like having a small child with ADD. If we can’t get them on banners just put the ad’s in front of what there reading.

  29. “That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts.”

    I heard (on this very blog), that Chriss Prillo gets $10k each month for the Google ads on his blog. Is that “peanuts”? Or is it BS?

  30. “That’s why Google ads are acceptable on blogs. But they pay peanuts.”

    I heard (on this very blog), that Chriss Prillo gets $10k each month for the Google ads on his blog. Is that “peanuts”? Or is it BS?

  31. Ouch. I commented elsewhere – twice – because it fit. Wouldn’t have here….

    Except a comic artist decided to compare her “ssues” with everyone. By the way, the SAME comic artist Robert prominently posted about last week.

    Pot. Kettle. Black. Let me expain.

    Everybody is after their 15 minutes of fame… and today it’s wb fame….

    Except somebody has to make money.

    We are ALL citizen journalists – until it doesn’t help to say it. We are ALL amateur bloggers – until we have to earn money. We are ALL starving artists – until an A-list blogger gets our attention.

    Dawn, you are just as bad as Robert. Who is just as bad as Dave. Who is just as bad as Michael and Om. Who are just as bad as Ken.

    Let’s take this new frontier and make sure we Americans bulldoze it so flat that nobody really has a shot to do something actually “new”.

    I’m sorry all… Arrington’s bold-ass “pound sand” remark simply left me realizing that NOTHING is different from the early 1960’s except the names. Money rules.

  32. Ouch. I commented elsewhere – twice – because it fit. Wouldn’t have here….

    Except a comic artist decided to compare her “ssues” with everyone. By the way, the SAME comic artist Robert prominently posted about last week.

    Pot. Kettle. Black. Let me expain.

    Everybody is after their 15 minutes of fame… and today it’s wb fame….

    Except somebody has to make money.

    We are ALL citizen journalists – until it doesn’t help to say it. We are ALL amateur bloggers – until we have to earn money. We are ALL starving artists – until an A-list blogger gets our attention.

    Dawn, you are just as bad as Robert. Who is just as bad as Dave. Who is just as bad as Michael and Om. Who are just as bad as Ken.

    Let’s take this new frontier and make sure we Americans bulldoze it so flat that nobody really has a shot to do something actually “new”.

    I’m sorry all… Arrington’s bold-ass “pound sand” remark simply left me realizing that NOTHING is different from the early 1960’s except the names. Money rules.

  33. DaveD, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’ve been making comments in Robert’s blog for what? two years? Why shouldn’t I still, just because Robert wrote a post or two about me?

    I don’t get it.

  34. DaveD, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I’ve been making comments in Robert’s blog for what? two years? Why shouldn’t I still, just because Robert wrote a post or two about me?

    I don’t get it.

  35. Actually, I just remembered that one of my first posts here was about my son joining the Marines, and Robert kindly wished him well and said he appreciated his service. That will be four years ago in August.

  36. Actually, I just remembered that one of my first posts here was about my son joining the Marines, and Robert kindly wished him well and said he appreciated his service. That will be four years ago in August.

  37. Right. Disclosure matters and was deficient in this case. You helped pioneer the case for the blog conversation and it seems you are not impressed with the “Birth of Conversational Marketing”.

  38. Right. Disclosure matters and was deficient in this case. You helped pioneer the case for the blog conversation and it seems you are not impressed with the “Birth of Conversational Marketing”.

  39. […] And with all due respect to Robert Scoble, this is more than an issue of disclosure, because when you do it smartly, the issue of disclosure is really irrelevant. That is, no one will ever question your integrity, or any undue bias, because the conversation will sound — and BE — natural. You’d have people who would naturally talk about the topic to be … well, talking about it. And like the best conversations, you’d have dissenting opinions — even perhaps, against the whole notion of what the topic is about. […]

  40. “It’s incredibly difficult to turn down $8,000 a month, or even $2,000″

    If this is true, and unless you are seeing more value in turning this potential money down, you are making a very irrational economic decision. Weren’t you also complaining that you made less than $100K a year at Microsoft? Why would you turn down $96K a year for just showing up? I could see your point if you doing something morally questionable, but I don’t think text ads rise to that level. So basically you are saying your “A-list status” is worth more to you than a potential of $96K a year?

  41. “It’s incredibly difficult to turn down $8,000 a month, or even $2,000″

    If this is true, and unless you are seeing more value in turning this potential money down, you are making a very irrational economic decision. Weren’t you also complaining that you made less than $100K a year at Microsoft? Why would you turn down $96K a year for just showing up? I could see your point if you doing something morally questionable, but I don’t think text ads rise to that level. So basically you are saying your “A-list status” is worth more to you than a potential of $96K a year?

  42. I don’t buy that, Scoble. A lot of bloggers are in this to get influential with stuff they know and do that isn’t disclosed. Take Loic Le Meur for instance. He moved to SF for this reason, and that’s by the way in contradiction with “the world is flat”, “genuine spontaneous long tail”, and all that. At the end of the day, it’s just marketing sluttery, just that blogging/pinging improved the network. What people like Loic Le Meur, and you, won’t say too openly is that just about every day their power is not to disclose, their power is to disclose when they feel the need. Kind of replicating journalist embargo. I think that’s how some people like you, whose core business is really networking behind the scene, is trying to disrupt tech journalism this way. This is not very genuine, the goal is really to tear down this industry.

  43. I don’t buy that, Scoble. A lot of bloggers are in this to get influential with stuff they know and do that isn’t disclosed. Take Loic Le Meur for instance. He moved to SF for this reason, and that’s by the way in contradiction with “the world is flat”, “genuine spontaneous long tail”, and all that. At the end of the day, it’s just marketing sluttery, just that blogging/pinging improved the network. What people like Loic Le Meur, and you, won’t say too openly is that just about every day their power is not to disclose, their power is to disclose when they feel the need. Kind of replicating journalist embargo. I think that’s how some people like you, whose core business is really networking behind the scene, is trying to disrupt tech journalism this way. This is not very genuine, the goal is really to tear down this industry.

  44. Isn’t the old adage true anymore?

    Don’t believe everything you read.

    If you can’t tell the difference between advertising and true enthusiasm for a product then you really have some problems.

  45. Isn’t the old adage true anymore?

    Don’t believe everything you read.

    If you can’t tell the difference between advertising and true enthusiasm for a product then you really have some problems.

  46. LayZ: I’d rather not take money for something I do at least on part on my own time. My day job is my video blog and that’s what I’d like to get paid for. That’s what Seagate sponsors. Maybe I’m making a bad economic decision, but that’s between me and my family, not yours to make.

  47. LayZ: I’d rather not take money for something I do at least on part on my own time. My day job is my video blog and that’s what I’d like to get paid for. That’s what Seagate sponsors. Maybe I’m making a bad economic decision, but that’s between me and my family, not yours to make.

  48. >it seems you are not impressed with the “Birth of Conversational Marketing”.

    Conversational Marketing started more than six years ago.

    This is just an example of a company that didn’t use this medium very well. We’ll have lots more examples of that over the next few years as companies bumble along and try to insert their foot into the conversation but end up sticking it in their mouths instead. Heck, I’ll probably make 1,000 mistakes over the next few years too. It’ll give Valleywag something to write about but we’ll all survive.

  49. >it seems you are not impressed with the “Birth of Conversational Marketing”.

    Conversational Marketing started more than six years ago.

    This is just an example of a company that didn’t use this medium very well. We’ll have lots more examples of that over the next few years as companies bumble along and try to insert their foot into the conversation but end up sticking it in their mouths instead. Heck, I’ll probably make 1,000 mistakes over the next few years too. It’ll give Valleywag something to write about but we’ll all survive.

  50. Even disclosure only works if you’re (seen to be) credible and trustworthy in the first place. And if you want your words, and therefor your disclosure to be credible, never, ever sell your words and your name together in the same package.

    When you started working for MS, the words with your name on it were still clearly your words, even if heavily influenced, but the source and nature of that influence was fully disclosed.

    If people start spouting phrases like “I was People Ready when…”, they’re no longer using their own words, even if the typed out the sentence themselves.
    That undermines their credibility in a way no form of disclosure can compensate.

  51. Even disclosure only works if you’re (seen to be) credible and trustworthy in the first place. And if you want your words, and therefor your disclosure to be credible, never, ever sell your words and your name together in the same package.

    When you started working for MS, the words with your name on it were still clearly your words, even if heavily influenced, but the source and nature of that influence was fully disclosed.

    If people start spouting phrases like “I was People Ready when…”, they’re no longer using their own words, even if the typed out the sentence themselves.
    That undermines their credibility in a way no form of disclosure can compensate.

  52. I really didn’t pay much attention to the People-Ready storm until I saw some of Arrington’s remarks. They really rubbed me the wrong way.

    From this post…
    http://www.crunchnotes.com/?p=409

    Mike Arrington:
    “It isn’t a direct endorsement. Rather, it’s usually an answer to some lame slogan created by the advertiser. It makes the ad more personal and has a higher click through rate, or so we’ve been told. In the case of the Microsoft ad, we were quoted how we had become “people ready,” whatever that means. See our answer and some of the others here (I think it will be hard to find this text controversial, or anything other then extremely boring). We do these all the time…generally FM suggests some language and we approve or tweak it to make it less lame. The ads go up, we get paid. This has been going on for months and months”

    First of all, I’m shocked that he is so openly mocking the “lame” campaign that he participated in. If I was Microsoft, I would be very pissed. Second, he seems to be admitting that his quote wasn’t even his words. This reminds me of the classic PR 1.0 technique of a software vendor writing up a quote about how much a customer loves their product, sending it to that customer for approval, and then running the quote in a press release as a customer endorsement when we all know that it’s the software vendor putting words in the customers mouth. What happened to authenticity?

  53. I really didn’t pay much attention to the People-Ready storm until I saw some of Arrington’s remarks. They really rubbed me the wrong way.

    From this post…
    http://www.crunchnotes.com/?p=409

    Mike Arrington:
    “It isn’t a direct endorsement. Rather, it’s usually an answer to some lame slogan created by the advertiser. It makes the ad more personal and has a higher click through rate, or so we’ve been told. In the case of the Microsoft ad, we were quoted how we had become “people ready,” whatever that means. See our answer and some of the others here (I think it will be hard to find this text controversial, or anything other then extremely boring). We do these all the time…generally FM suggests some language and we approve or tweak it to make it less lame. The ads go up, we get paid. This has been going on for months and months”

    First of all, I’m shocked that he is so openly mocking the “lame” campaign that he participated in. If I was Microsoft, I would be very pissed. Second, he seems to be admitting that his quote wasn’t even his words. This reminds me of the classic PR 1.0 technique of a software vendor writing up a quote about how much a customer loves their product, sending it to that customer for approval, and then running the quote in a press release as a customer endorsement when we all know that it’s the software vendor putting words in the customers mouth. What happened to authenticity?

  54. Almost everyone I know reads TechCrunch, or GigaOm, or Valleywag. How do I know that? Because at dinner parties, or whenever I meet geeks they bring stuff up that was discussed on TechCrunch

    I can’t believe Nixon was elected either, I mean everyone I talk to hated the guy.

    http://valleywag.com/tech/spokesbloggers/federated-was-warned-about-wikipedia-spam-271677.php

    Sums up what I think sbout this spokesblogging. Just more corporate crap in a new medium. Why are you defending this Scoble?

  55. Almost everyone I know reads TechCrunch, or GigaOm, or Valleywag. How do I know that? Because at dinner parties, or whenever I meet geeks they bring stuff up that was discussed on TechCrunch

    I can’t believe Nixon was elected either, I mean everyone I talk to hated the guy.

    http://valleywag.com/tech/spokesbloggers/federated-was-warned-about-wikipedia-spam-271677.php

    Sums up what I think sbout this spokesblogging. Just more corporate crap in a new medium. Why are you defending this Scoble?

  56. Maybe I’m misreading this part of what you say, but you seem to be saying (my interpretation) just disclosing makes it “acceptable.”

    Here’s case in point: you disclosed about that company which gave you your new pricey phone, then said a lot of good things about them and recommended people consider doing business with them.

    Are they reputable? Do they treat their customers right? Are they reasonably priced and do they have an excellent service?

    In other words, in the things which make a real difference, are they top-flight, and how did you come to that conclusion? Or would you recommend a service just because they gave you a free expensive phone you wanted?

    If you’d gone into detail about why you’d picked their service and their qualifications, I’d read it with interest. But just because they gave you a free pricey phone isn’t any reason for me to consider them, and it makes me wonder a bit about you too. Brings up a question in my mind which wasn’t there beforehand.

    If you’d even written about both the pros and cons of the company after accepting their gift, I would have responded differently. But as it came across to me, I just read them as people who knew who to give gifts to effectively.

    Just my opinion.

  57. Maybe I’m misreading this part of what you say, but you seem to be saying (my interpretation) just disclosing makes it “acceptable.”

    Here’s case in point: you disclosed about that company which gave you your new pricey phone, then said a lot of good things about them and recommended people consider doing business with them.

    Are they reputable? Do they treat their customers right? Are they reasonably priced and do they have an excellent service?

    In other words, in the things which make a real difference, are they top-flight, and how did you come to that conclusion? Or would you recommend a service just because they gave you a free expensive phone you wanted?

    If you’d gone into detail about why you’d picked their service and their qualifications, I’d read it with interest. But just because they gave you a free pricey phone isn’t any reason for me to consider them, and it makes me wonder a bit about you too. Brings up a question in my mind which wasn’t there beforehand.

    If you’d even written about both the pros and cons of the company after accepting their gift, I would have responded differently. But as it came across to me, I just read them as people who knew who to give gifts to effectively.

    Just my opinion.

  58. John: well, disclosure goes a long, long way to making a variety of sins “acceptable.” If you really are disclosing everything then at minimum your readers can decide for themselves whether or not you’re doing something that pisses them off. To me that’s a HUGE step toward treating your readers with respect.

    Is it all you should do? No, clearly there’s some things I wouldn’t do. I won’t sell my content stream (my words) down the river. Why not? Because I don’t want to lose the little credibility I have. My credibility is worth more to me than the money I’d get from an advertiser.

    But the first step to this industry, if you can call it that, to getting more credibility is disclosure. On that point there is no wiggle room with me.

  59. John: well, disclosure goes a long, long way to making a variety of sins “acceptable.” If you really are disclosing everything then at minimum your readers can decide for themselves whether or not you’re doing something that pisses them off. To me that’s a HUGE step toward treating your readers with respect.

    Is it all you should do? No, clearly there’s some things I wouldn’t do. I won’t sell my content stream (my words) down the river. Why not? Because I don’t want to lose the little credibility I have. My credibility is worth more to me than the money I’d get from an advertiser.

    But the first step to this industry, if you can call it that, to getting more credibility is disclosure. On that point there is no wiggle room with me.

  60. Robert,

    You are so right when you say it’s a public relations disaster. Their sin was minor — what’s killing them is the way it was framed by Denton and their public implosion.

    Why it almost makes mainstream media look good!

  61. Robert,

    You are so right when you say it’s a public relations disaster. Their sin was minor — what’s killing them is the way it was framed by Denton and their public implosion.

    Why it almost makes mainstream media look good!

  62. @38 “LayZ: I’d rather not take money for something I do at least on part on my own time. My day job is my video blog and that’s what I’d like to get paid for. That’s what Seagate sponsors. Maybe I’m making a bad economic decision, but that’s between me and my family, not yours to make.”

    I never suggested it was my decision to make. It clearly is yours. I was simply pointing the economic irrationality of your decision. Again, you bitched in the past about not making over $100K when you were at MS. So, it seems irrational for you to bitch about that, yet leave a potential of $100K on the table simply BEcause you don’t want to take money for something you do “on your own time” So clearly blogging on your own time is worth more to you than $96K a year.

  63. @38 “LayZ: I’d rather not take money for something I do at least on part on my own time. My day job is my video blog and that’s what I’d like to get paid for. That’s what Seagate sponsors. Maybe I’m making a bad economic decision, but that’s between me and my family, not yours to make.”

    I never suggested it was my decision to make. It clearly is yours. I was simply pointing the economic irrationality of your decision. Again, you bitched in the past about not making over $100K when you were at MS. So, it seems irrational for you to bitch about that, yet leave a potential of $100K on the table simply BEcause you don’t want to take money for something you do “on your own time” So clearly blogging on your own time is worth more to you than $96K a year.

  64. @38. And who said anything about keeping the money? I ‘m sure $96K would be a welcome donation at any charity.

    or a John Edwards campaign fund raising dinner ;-)

  65. @38. And who said anything about keeping the money? I ‘m sure $96K would be a welcome donation at any charity.

    or a John Edwards campaign fund raising dinner ;-)

  66. It’s worth $96,000 to me not to have to worry about who owns my soul today and/or making the experience here worse for my readers. I’m sure I’d have to add some ads here to make that kind of money and put them in my RSS feed. I might even have to make my RSS feed partial text, which is what a lot of the “pros” do to make their paychecks. That’s not worth $96,000 to me.

  67. It’s worth $96,000 to me not to have to worry about who owns my soul today and/or making the experience here worse for my readers. I’m sure I’d have to add some ads here to make that kind of money and put them in my RSS feed. I might even have to make my RSS feed partial text, which is what a lot of the “pros” do to make their paychecks. That’s not worth $96,000 to me.

  68. Robert, sorry I disagree…last year I blogged…

    “In the 1970’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked IBM.

    In the 1980’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked Andersen Consulting.

    In the 1990’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked Gartner.

    In the 2000’s when CIO’s want to know what to buy, they ask each other.”

    For a fleeting moment, it looked like bloggers would be an independent source of input, but we are whores too…no wonder CIOs only trust peers.

  69. Robert, sorry I disagree…last year I blogged…

    “In the 1970’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked IBM.

    In the 1980’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked Andersen Consulting.

    In the 1990’s when CIO’s wanted to know what to buy, they asked Gartner.

    In the 2000’s when CIO’s want to know what to buy, they ask each other.”

    For a fleeting moment, it looked like bloggers would be an independent source of input, but we are whores too…no wonder CIOs only trust peers.

  70. Thanks for your response, Robert. I appreciate it. One of the reasons I keep up with your blog is that you take your commenters seriously and value your credibility above money. That’s far too rare these days; glad you have those “old school values.” :-)

  71. Thanks for your response, Robert. I appreciate it. One of the reasons I keep up with your blog is that you take your commenters seriously and value your credibility above money. That’s far too rare these days; glad you have those “old school values.” :-)

  72. Hey Robert:

    The reason people think this is an old conversation because it harps on the whole theory of transparency which we’ve all beaten over the head until the horse I believe now has been cremated. The reason you need to still bring it up is because the overwhelming majority of advertising is based on spin. And prior to these extremely open conversations we have on the Internet most would not disclose.

    I have my own custom publishing business (http://www.sparkmediasolutions.com) for traditional and new media. And I often speak for many different companies PLUS I work as a journalist (http://www.sparkminute.com). The bottom line is I’m transparent in any case as to who I represent. And if I ever do a story as a journalist about one of my clients, I disclose that behavior. A reader or listener determines the value of that communication. It could be, “Hey, he’s an insider and he’s got some great information.” Or it could be “He’s a shill for the company, and that’s why he’s plugging them.” It’s not for me to form those opinions, it’s for the readers to form them. All I can do is disclose.

  73. Hey Robert:

    The reason people think this is an old conversation because it harps on the whole theory of transparency which we’ve all beaten over the head until the horse I believe now has been cremated. The reason you need to still bring it up is because the overwhelming majority of advertising is based on spin. And prior to these extremely open conversations we have on the Internet most would not disclose.

    I have my own custom publishing business (http://www.sparkmediasolutions.com) for traditional and new media. And I often speak for many different companies PLUS I work as a journalist (http://www.sparkminute.com). The bottom line is I’m transparent in any case as to who I represent. And if I ever do a story as a journalist about one of my clients, I disclose that behavior. A reader or listener determines the value of that communication. It could be, “Hey, he’s an insider and he’s got some great information.” Or it could be “He’s a shill for the company, and that’s why he’s plugging them.” It’s not for me to form those opinions, it’s for the readers to form them. All I can do is disclose.

  74. […] As cults of personality become more dominant in the Web 3.0 culture, they will need to apply checks and balances to the way that they “use” their celebrity. Public trust is a finite thing, and once you lose it you can’t get it back very easily. Publishers and advertisers will need to strike a balance between the needs of a particular ad campaign, and the loss of creditability associated with paid endorsements. I think Robert Scoble said it best, do whatever you want but if you don’t want to leave yourself open to attack — disclose it. […]

  75. […] As cults of personality become more dominant in the Web 3.0 culture, they will need to apply checks and balances to the way that they “use” their celebrity. Public trust is a finite thing, and once you lose it you can’t get it back very easily. Publishers and advertisers will need to strike a balance between the needs of a particular ad campaign, and the loss of creditability associated with paid endorsements. I think Robert Scoble said it best, do whatever you want but if you don’t want to leave yourself open to attack — disclose it. […]

  76. You know by puting up a post like this you know seem more credible, and thus more advertising dollars. very clever.

  77. You know by puting up a post like this you know seem more credible, and thus more advertising dollars. very clever.