Over the line

Over the line

: Rafat Ali alerts us to a new blog advertising option that, unfortunately, gets it wrong.

Blogversations wants marketers to sponsor blogs. So far, so good. The wise marketer, as Chris Locke said in Gonzo Marketing, will see that by underwriting a blogger who shares the same passion, marketers will tell that blogger’s auidience that they, too, share the passion; we’re all in this together.

Blogversations, however, gets it backward. It wants marketers to actively tell a blogger what to discuss and then they will sponsor that discussion. Oh, I’m sure they’ll say they won’t tell the blogger what to say, only the topic. But in my judgment, this goes over the line: It calls into question the blogger’s credibility (would she be talking about this if she weren’t paid to talk about this?). And it is contrary to the essence and appeal of blogs: I talk about what I want to talk about. Love it or leave it, read it or not, sponsor it or not, that’s what we bloggers do.

The truth is that any marketer can probably find just the discussions they want to sponsor without having to artificially inseminate the body blog.

I have the same problem every night when I hear on NPR that so-and-so foundation underwrote not the news on NPR in NPR’s own independent judgment but instead underwrote some specific area of coverage. Would NPR have chosen to cover that area, in its best judgment, if it weren’t being paid to cover it? This puts NPR’s judgment in question. I’m not saying NPR necessarily did anything wrong or anything differently from how it would operate normally; the issue now is that we don’t know.

I’m all for sponsorship and underwriting of blogs. I simply counsel that we have to be careful to maintain our blog integrity, our own voices and views, for that is the real value of this new medium: It’s by real people about real people.