Valleywag’s Nick Denton has his knickers in a bunch because some of the AA+++ bloggers who are part of the Federated Media network have conspired to do a Microsoft “people ready” campaign.
Here’s a screen snap of the post in which Nick gets in high dudgeon about all this:
Denton pontificates: “One would have thought that tech opinion-leaders as influential as [fill in the blank] would ration their credibility more carefully.”
Uh yeah. Note to Nick: If you’re going to diss people for their lame ads, you should avoid doing so when you have a picture of Gene Frickin Shalit wearing a pair of TiVo frickin antennae on the same frickin page.
Full disclosure: FM is my ad rep, and if they had brought me this dumbass ad campaign I would have told them no. With adjectives.
Updated in the cold light of day: There actually is a serious issue here, which is that ad deals and editorial content should never get mixed up. At all. Back in February, an FM salesperson asked me if I would be interested in talking with a potential advertiser about reviewing their product. My response, in full, was:
I’m not comfortable with the idea that any editorial pitch is related to an advertising pitch or vice-versa. They are welcome to pitch the product to me, and if I find it interesting and worthwhile I’ll cover it. (And based on the brief description it indeed is something I would probably like to cover.) That decision will be completely independent of any advertising decisions they make.
Hope that makes my position clear for FM and for the client.
The company in question never ran an ad on my site. They never contacted me about reviewing the product. That ad salesperson has not contacted me since then. And nobody at FM ever asked me about contributing to the Microsoft “people ready” campaign, which looks like it really does cross the line between advertising and editorial.
And Denton misses the point, in my opinion. He says those A-listers should “ration their credibility more carefully, and reserve it for products and companies for which they felt real enthusiasm,” implying that the problem was they sold out to (ugh) Microsoft and not someone cool like Apple or Facebook (both of which Denton mentions in his post). No, the problem is that they appear to have sold out. Period. This would not have been more acceptable had it been done with a different advertiser.