Scads Of Sad Ads, And Blogs Become Splogs

June 23, 2007

There’s yet another blogging controversy floating around the blogosphere, regarding Microsoft and Federated Media using several “A-list” bloggers as advertisers. Read the summary here. And here’s another good one.

My initial reaction was a big ho-hum, as advertising is slowly taking over everything, everywhere, but I do have a few thoughts:

  1. It’s plainly clear that many of the most popular technology blogs aren’t blogs any more. They’re media websites.
  2. For those that have become businesses, they put advertisers first and readers second.
  3. Either disclose your relationship to your ads or just expect all readers to consider what you write as paid for.
  4. I have no problem if a website wants to go that route. But for what it’s worth, I like to read actual content, not ads. I don’t intentionally link to splogs, spam or banner ads. I’m not likely to link to sites with nothing but ads or content that is basically a big sales pitch, either.
  5. End result: I wonder why I continue linking to these big tech “blogs” or even subscribe to them. I don’t have CNET in my feed reader. Perhaps some feed culling is in order.

For a more in-depth opinion about why this is making me feel slightly off, check out Tony Hung’s take. He basically lays it on the table and says it’s no different than PayPerPost which many A-list bloggers openly deride.

Om Malik gets it (his feed stays).

Ultimately, if you’re a blogger, think about disclosure and let readers know what the purpose of your blog is and where you stand in regards to advertising. Make an about page. Consider this fun disclosure plugin.

I suggest pondering: what sort of future do we want to create? Should the onus be on the reader to decide if your content is or is not advertising? Should we as readers just assume everything is an ad? Should we just keep monetizing until blogs are full of corporate garbage?

I take slight offense at people who suggest “caveat emptor” and everything we read regarding something for sale on blogs should just be considered paid for. I don’t want readers thinking that about this blog, and I don’t think many of the blogs I read would like me to think that of them. Many bloggers write about stuff that is genuinely interesting to them and products they actually use, for free.

(Do you think Apple is paying people to generate all this iPhone buzz? Try making a cool product people actually want to buy.)

The most amusing irony – I still have absolutely no idea what Microsoft and this people-conversation-something is supposed to mean. There’s a lot of loose change being flushed down the toilet here. Congrats, ad geniuses, as a result of all this brouhaha yet another half-assed ad campaign is lost amid the noise of too much freaking spammy splog crapola.

Update: The Internet sure moves quickly. Here’s what one person thinks about this whole people-something-three-way-conversation campaign.

Additional Reading: Jeff Jarvis


  1. DaveD says:

    Nicely said.

  2. DaveD says:

    Sorry, I need to add one more thing…. this concept of, uh, three way communication.

    Communication is TWO way. Always has, always will be. There’s some person who is saying something… and some party (could be more than one) who is listening.

    But somehow these marketers believe they have a THIRD point of contact Making things a triangle? Jeez. That is just wrong.

    There is no way you talk in that context without true listeners wondering aout your selfish interest in barging into the two way communication.

  3. webomatica says:

    Maybe if the people being advertised (us) could say, no, we don’t want you to have a conversation about that product, how about something we’re actually interested in? At least, a real “conversation” would have a back and forth. To call it a conversation is pretty lame…

  4. Pramit says:

    At the end of it all, news must stay news- distinct from influenceand all that psedo-events.

    You can’t do something wrong and then explain with new-fangled terms like three-way conversation, whatever that may be.

  5. SpragueD says:


    I appreciate your frustration with the increased blurring of “editorial” and advertising in blogs — but its just a symptom of a larger “wild west” environment on the net where standards aren’t carrying over from traditional media (which, of course, have plenty of their own sins to account for). I’m more concerned by the faux-journalism of sites like CNet “news” which, as far as I can tell, nowhere disclaims a wall between advertising and editorial content.

    At least with “mainstream media” there is a standard that can be used to hold organizations to account. No such thing exists on the net. you may not like it, but caveat emptor is sound advice…

  6. webomatica says:

    SpraugeD, the more I think about it, I do follow the caveat emptor rule when I first check out a blog, and usually if I get the sense that it is a splog, I don’t continue reading it.

    It is true that although I complain about mainstream media, at least the reporters have some training and understand objectivity and traditional news values like conflict of interest, and at least strive for it.

    Perhaps these big tech bloggers have aspirations to become the next CNet. And as I mention above, I don’t regularly read that site. I might pop in there occasionally to check out a DVD player review but that’s it :)

  7. SpragueD says:


    Much as I try to stay out of internecine blogosphere spats, I just couldn’t resist posting my take on the matter…


  8. DomainNames says:

    entertainment is that everyone wants. i do not find any such thing in this technology. there is no clear explanation about what is it.