Tom Coates on a new low for marketers, brands and advertising agencies in their clumsy attempts to co-opt the blogosphere for their ‘targetted campaigns’.
A ‘viral marketer’ used Tom’s post about his estranged father, a deeply personal topic, to leave ‘personal’ and sympathetic comment under the name of one Barry Scott. Nice, apart from the fact that Barry Scott is a fake character from a blog called Barry Scott Here (no google juice for that blog but Tom links to him in his post), a marketing vehicle for Cillit Bang products. In the words of Jon Stewart, one could say: It was definitely viral, I felt nauseous afterwards. Tom has done some good detective work, digging out names such as Young & Rubicam, Partners J. Walter Thompson, Reckitt Benckiser.
There are some pretty damning comments as well. The brand gets it, the industry gets it:
On one level it’s simply an addition to the constant irratation of comment spam. On another it just adds to the continuing irritation of advertising in general leeching off communities (or in adspeak, target groups) to market products that by their very nature are tired and lacking in imagination and forward thinking - I don’t have the facts but I can imagine that this particular product won’t go on to win any environmental awards. And no, their ads are not ironic, they’re just annoying. And that’s plain and simple annoying, not even discuss it down the pub annoying.
Holy crap. This is just insane. At what point does it seem like anything resembling a good idea to get your brand associated with an apparent willingness to make capital like this? If it isn’t somebody spoofing, somebody has really lost control of their marketing plan.
Another commenter, Will Rowan sums it up well:
All “Barry” has done is brought the same ethics as work just fine in other marcomms channels, and used them online. Where, imho, they don’t work. At all. You need to be a whole lot smarter than this to make a commercial blog work for your brand.
Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks that fake blogs can be used as a front to engage with the rest of the blogosphere.
They can’t. Period.
And a useful graph to show to those who needs to see the damage. There is much I need to add to this, other than I am not surprised by this. In the last six months I have been approached by several (large) advertising and media agencies to talk to them about blogs for their clients and very quickly concluded that they are simply not my market. There is nothing that will jerk most of them out of their, we-are-the-ministry-of-fun-co-opting-the-next-’cool’-thing-and-selling-it-to-clients-for-much-money attitude. Nowadays, I just tell them that my aim is to tell their clients how to do this for themselves, with authentic voice, for a fraction of their budgets. If they don’t balk, then we talk.
Oh dear. It looks quite a lot like Reckitt Benckiser, Cilit Bang’s makers, or their ad agencies, think this is a good way to sell cleaning product. And it looks quite a lot like they’re about to learn what happens when viral marketing goes wrong. May they be flamed to a cinder.
Just a note on the LA Times wiki boo boo: Rob Barrett, the LA Times GM, deserves praise for wanting to use blogs, wikis, and other emergent technologies to reinvigorate the output of the entire media entity. I’ve talked to him many times about this kind of stuff and to say he’s on the side of the angels is a massive understatement. And far from thinking he knows it all, he’s genuinely eager to learn how to get the most benefit out of these technologies for the LAT and readers alike. He’s a true enthusiast, an incredibly clever guy, and - as this incident shows - isn’t afraid of taking calculated risks.
Well done, Rob. Short-term stumbling often precedes huge success. Those who understand that and keep plugging away are the ones who produce truly great things.
3, the UK’s first video mobile network, announced the first mobile blogging service.
3’s My Gallery is set to transform blogging from a ‘geeky’ hobby to a mainstream communication method. The immediacy of this type of web publishing means that people can comment instantly as it happens, on the move.
That’s marvellous. But what do I read here:
Both public and private My Gallery sites are fully interactive allowing visitors to ‘blog’ their own comments.
Interesting, I thought that one blogs one’s thoughts, ideas, stories and other comment on the blog. Blogging is generally associated with the owner of the blog, not the visitors. But let’s not be pedantic… it has the magic word ‘interactive’.
To set up a My Gallery site, customers simply send a picture or video message to “3333”, charged at a standard rate, they then receive a password via SMS to manage their blog site.
Ah, so 3 is charging a lot of money as picture and video messaging cost a bit - one of the main reasons I imagine why people do not use it so much. This is in direct opposition to Lifeblog, a Nokia moblogging application that allows you to blog directly from your mobile (via email, not picture messaging) and your PC (via a desktop application) using Typepad as the publishing tool. Works great and comes as a blogging application first rather than an expensive attempt at ‘interactive’ - and expensive - mobile data services…
Big Blog Company client Kamal Aboukhater, producer of the independent film Blowing Smoke (yes, that’s our lead designer’s gorgeous creation), has put an invitation out to readers of the movie’s blog to come to a special screening of the film on April 21 in Los Angeles.
I think this is a first of its kind invitation from a film producer via movie blog - very exciting stuff. Blowing Smoke is a provocative film - the New York Post’s Richard Johnson called it ”the most politically incorrect movie ever made” - and well worth checking out. RSVP now, as space is limited.
Wired News reports that Ask Jeeves bought Bloglines, a web log index and internet news funnel popular with serious readers of online journals, in its latest bid to gain ground on heavyweight rivals Google and Yahoo.
Ask Jeeves is counting on Bloglines to become a significant drawing card. The company has been trying to lure traffic from the internet’s search engine leaders, Google and Yahoo, as well as two of the web’s other biggest drawing cards, Microsoft’s MSN.com and Time Warner’s AOL.com.
Hm, let’s see what comes out of the wash…
Lots of juicy goodness over at Jeff Jarvis’s BuzzMachine. First, Jeff gets hassled by Jason Calacanis, who has been keeping a close watch on the ratio of props that Jeff gives his blogs versus the props that Jeff gives Nick Denton’s blogs. Yawn. But the glimpse at Jeff’s email exchange with Jason provides some entertainment.
Second, Jeff points to Micah Sifry’s project to compile a directory of bloggers who concentrate on state and local politics in the US. Wonderful stuff, showing that blogging is also excellent for network building and information exchange on a local (and hyperlocal) level as well as at the national and global level. But I find myself disturbed by the lack of permalinks on Micah’s site. It looks like they’ve been deliberately disabled. What’s going on, Micah?
I said way back then that the Visual Communicator folks were missing the boat by not targeting bloggers. It took them two years to wake up but now here is a vlogging tool.
I suspect this is one of many companies who will wake up this year and realise that they’re missing a trick by ignoring bloggers. Long may the trend continue.
Great news - the bottomless resources of the Internet have just got more...er, bottomless. But seriously, it is good news that HighBeam Research (of the former e-library name) together with Christopher Locke (of the Cluetrain fame) are creating new tools specially for bloggers. Yay, we made it.
The idea is to make it easy for bloggers to enhance their blogs with information found on the HighBeam Research Engine by enabling them to
search more than 3,000 newspapers, magazines, journals and transcripts on HighBeam Library; meta-search the entire Web on HighBeam Web; fact-check using encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses and almanacs on HighBeam Reference; and use HighBeam Executives to research more than 20 million profiles of business people.
In addition to advanced searching options, e-mail alerts and folders for organizing articles, HighBeam Research now offers a tool that allows bloggers to easily link to the full text of a relevant article from their blog. That is marvellous and I look forward to trying it.
Now for the fine print:
While full text articles are usually only available to HighBeam Research Full Members who pay a subscription, as part the HighBeam Research Bloggers Program, bloggers will be able to provide their readers with time-limited free access to full text articles in their blogs.
I do understand that they still need to make money from their content but hey, does it mean that my links break after the time-limit on free access expires?
via Doc Searls
The Big Blog Company blog looks a bit different today. Well spotted. Let me tell you what we have got. This is the blog. Then there is much content and juicy goodness around that can be accessed via the navigation bar and any place you care to click. We have info about our products, about us, with pictures (I know, I know), some background info about blogs and the blogosphere and blog related stuff. And probably an extensive range of twidly little bugs and things that probably don’t work quite right, but a magnanimous person like you will not make a big deal out of that, right? Why? Because we have a hippo at the top. It’s round and cuddly (unlike us) and has a story behind it. A good story in fact, a kind of story every company should have. And a clever metaphor. So go and read the story. It’s great. Did I mention how good the story is…
Oh, and no comments moderation other than captcha and our eagle-sharp eye for manually entered spam. So fire away. Be nice. At least to start off with.
The World Association of Newspapers is having a conference in Prague in November, expecting around 300 delegates from the news industry. Some of them may arrive with a clue, but will any of them leave with one?
The WAN’s director of communications, Larry Kilman, says in a dotJournalism piece entitled How to make money from online news:
Newspapers have enormous amounts of content which they poured onto the internet - and then realised they were pouring away their most valuable asset without any revenue.
Oh, like the Guardian has done, with huge success?
Many are now finding out how to go backwards and get the content paid for.
Going backwards? You got that right.
The conference will examine a lot of strategies that are working in different markets.
Huh. I wonder if the WAN would like to share with the rest of the world what these strategies are that are “working” in multiple markets - or any markets for that matter. I guess it depends on what you mean by “working,” and for whom it is supposedly doing so. Somehow, I seriously doubt that Kilman’s definition is the same as ours…
Blabble is a blog research and analysis tool, giving companies access to the buzz of blogs.
We parse millions of blogs giving you access to influential thoughts on your brand dedicated to making sense out of the seemingly endless supply of blog information.
Interesting. They do not currently accept any new applications at this time while they are upgrade their infrastructure. But they will be accepting users again starting 6th September. But so far, so good. Let’s see what happens.
via BL Ochman
Update: Just signed up for the service, will report later.
Om Malik has a scoop on venture capitalists’ love affair with RSS.
I have learned exclusively that Technorati has/or is about to close its first round of funding. My sources indicate that it was a mega-round, about $6.5 million at a valuation of around $12 million for the company. Draper Fisher Jurvetson led the round.