Saturday, June 23, 2007

A-list Bloggers, ReviewMe, PayperPost…what’s the difference?

A group of A-list bloggers, including Michael Arrington, Om Malik and others stand accused of writing paid for/ad-supported praises of Microsoft latest campaign.

Valleywag writes that John Battelle's Federated Media, who manages advertising support for the named A-list blogs got them to write puff pieces.

Puff pieces are common in the print and TV media, with even the best casually reporting Press Releases as actual news worthy events, often praising below-average products from big companies as life changing offerings.

News blogging was meant to change this muddy scenery with intelligent and honest analysis.
However, we all seem to have slipped somewhere down the line of evolution.

Balancing the demands of honest reporting and making money often puts the blogger/entrepreneur on a slippery ground; many publishing upstarts across all medium know this. That said this ‘A-list slipping’ doesn’t help the beleagured cause of intelligent and useful blogging.

Mike Arrington of Techcrunch has often been accused of traversing a grey line on objectivity.

All this leads one to debate where there is indeed any difference between paid- for reviews done by ReviewMe and PayPerPost and so-called elite bloggers.

This post by Michael Arrington covering a Microsoft product release is symptomatic about the issue on hand.
You can gauge how fawning the writeup really is.


A quick response by Om Malik, who is a seasoned and respected journalist, when Valleywag broke this story.

A collection of MediaVidea posts on A-Lists, ethics and related matters:

5 Questions for Bill Gates (re: When Bill met a group of fawning bloggers)

Ethics 101 for blog network Owners

The Attention Economy is an A-lister's Economy

Rules of the Superstar Economy

Downsides of the A-list Phenomenom

Update (24.6.2007)

Jeff Jarvis' analysis of the episode:
While some top bloggers in questions have responded with "I am shocked",or "I am amused" statements, Jeff Jarvis says this episode is a cautioanry tale for bloggers everywhere:

I tried to warn Federated when I adamantly turned down two prior similar campaigns, telling them that this would reflect poorly on the bloggers who do it, possibly on bloggers as a whole, on the network itself, and in the end on the advertisers. But they kept trying to push the boundaries, because that’s what advertisers and thus sales people do.

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 — whatever those boundaries are — that is the very definition of selling out.

In each of these cases, the advertiser’s effort is to get more closely associated with us, our content, our reputations, our brands. They’d like get into our pants mouths. They want us to speak their names. Nicely.

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At 2:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the people under question trying to defend their actions by saying it is Conversational Marketing.

Yet another slick term to hide the truth, huh?

- Tom


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