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  • dbinkowski 5:41 pm on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    The Economy, Ethics, Blogs and Marketing 

    There’s a hot debate over on Twitter this morning today regarding the K-Mart/IZEA/Blogger campaign and the ethics of bloggers taking money to write posts. Marc Meyer’s Direct Marketing Observations blog has a good post documenting the discussion. I’m re-posting my response to the question here:

    It’s definitely a slippery slope. Does anyone *really* know the bloggers their reading? Probably not. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to make that call. Bloggers have to make a living, and readers should understand that, but as Chris is finding out it’s about expectations of the reader from the blogger.

    Ultimately Jeremiah is right – it does lessen the credibility of the blogger over time. Want evidence? Celebrity endorsements still mean something to some people but ultimately are met with skepticism. In this case the objective of the campaign was reach, and that was achieved. Will KMart see an uptick in sales as a result? It’s going to be impossible to tell because of the economy and benefit that bargainesque stores, including KMart, are seeing.

    As someone on the WOMMA Member Ethics Advisory Board, the bloggers disclosed that they were paid. I’m not sure what more you can ask of them.

    I want to know from you, as a marketer or blogger (or both): Is this the type of campaign you would engage in? Would you consider it ethical or unethical? Taking it a step further, does it diminish the credibility of the blogosphere and, as John Bell from Ogilvy theorizes, turn the blogosphere (and social media) into yet another media channel for the media buying agencies?

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/The_Economy_Ethics_Blogs_and_Marketing’;

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    • Tonja 7:29 pm on December 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Paying bloggers to review isn’t the best idea. However, what is the answer? Advertising as it exists now is dead. Newspapers are dropping like flies, TV viewing is down and banner ads? Yeah, try to get the ROI on that one. Advertising needs to change it’s model, but I don’t know what that model will be. However, if bloggers don’t get some sort of payment (ads, etc.), they won’t keep publishing for free, at least not full time. Obviously I don’t have all of the answers but I feel like we’re headed towards a big change …

    • Jim Wagoner 4:09 am on January 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      This economic mess started with the housing market and likely won’t recover until the housing market recovers. Why can’t the banks/lenders drop mortgage rates to the 3.5% area, keeping them in line with the historical margin (1%) above the 10 year treasury? Maybe use some of the $350 billion+ bailout money to help subsidize it, if needed. Maybe get some useful help from the government.

      If homeowners could refinance their mortgages and save hundreds of dollars every month on their payments it would have a much greater affect on the economy then a one-time check for $500 (which really does nothing), and it wouldn’t cost us taxpayers anything. If people saw rates at 3.5% and knew they were only going to be there for a few months to a year, I believe we would see people stampeding to buy houses.

      The other thing that could/should be done regarding refinancing is figuring out a way to allow just about everyone to do it. No more Loan Modifications. Just let everyone get their payments to something they can afford and hopefully create extra income for most. Spending would pick up, saving many businesses, creating additional income and ultimately additional tax revenue.

      Why wouldn’t this work? What am I missing?

  • dbinkowski 3:11 pm on November 2, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Congratulations 2007 WOMMIE Award Winners! 

    The Word of Mouth Marketing Association announced the second WOMMIE Award winners the other day leading up to the 3rd Annual WOMMA Summit taking place in a few weeks in Las Vegas. What’s a WOMMIE? The WOMMIEs are given to “reward amazing word of mouth campaigns and the smart people who create them.” We were one of the inaugural 2006 winners, and it’s nice to see that there were no repeat-winners from the year before because there is so much great work going on out there and IMHO others should be recognized as well.

    Here’s the list of the 2007 WOMMIE Award recipients and their winning case studies:

    • Affinitive — “American Skiing Company: MyA41.com Passholder Community”
    • Converseon — “Second Chance Tree Project Takes Reforestation from Virtual World to Physical World”
    • Fanscape — “Clear Channel NEW! Populating Site with Musicians Campaign”
    • Quicken Loans — “How Quicken Loans Became a Yahoo! Answers Knowledge Partner

    I’m especially proud of Clayton Closson and the team at Quicken Loans for several reasons. First, they’re from the D. Second, I sat next to Clay C while he was an MS&L’er — so it’s great to see alumni continuing to do great work (plus he contributes to my blog!). Finally, and most important, Quicken is the only brand to win a WOMMIE this year. The others are agencies specializing in community marketing, virtual worlds and youth marketing. All niche and notable practices, but after talking with the guys from Quicken at the New Orleans WOMMA Basic Training they are committed to tying WOM efforts to the bottom line. Yep, for Quicken, WOM is right up there with SEO on the ROI measurement scale — which, in my mind, is more impressive than any award or accolade.

    You can check out the full library of submissions in the WOMMA case study library.

    Side note, I won’t be seeing you in Las Vegas this year as I will be presenting at a private client meeting in Paris. I know, I know — Who wants to see the real Eiffel Tower when there’s a giant fake one in the desert? Bon jour!

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/business_finance/Congratulations_to_the_2007_WOMMIE_Award_Winners’;

     
    • Melanie Seasons 5:09 am on November 4, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      You forgot to mention the most important part: who *is* going to womma in your place… 😉

      Sucks about Paris, though.

    • Clay C. 2:50 pm on November 19, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Yo Dave

      Thanks for the props, brother. I tried to leave a comment last week a few times and it didn’t go through. Anyway, the conference was great.

      WOMMA is really an awesome organization and I hope Quicken Loans stays a memember and more brands join. There was so much energy at the summit. It was amazing.

      The keynote lunches were outstanding. Both Richard Tait and Andy Sernovitz put on electricfying presentations that engaged the audience.

      I really appreciate your kind words on winning the WOMMIE and for urging me to join WOMMA in the first place.

  • dbinkowski 3:15 am on October 25, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    PayPerPost censors bloggers 

    Reading a recent thread by a mom blogger on the PayPerPost message board has revealed a shocking revelation: PayPerPost will not let it’s employees, or “Posties” as they’re called, write about anything they don’t purchase. Full disclosure: This was brought to my attention because a colleague worked on a recent campaign and was emailed by a blogger whose post was yanked by PayPerPost due to “violating the terms of service”.

    You might remember my other takes on PPP: paying for blog posts isn’t word of mouth marketing and they’re unethical. But I digress…

    The explanation from a PayPerPost censor, errr “reviewer”, cited their terms of service:

    A sponsored post is any post for which you received something (cash, goods or services) in exchange for writing the post.

    To clarify, we don’t send out products in exchange for a review. Bloggers are asked if they’re interested, we deliver the product if so and if they choose to write then so be it. There are never strings attached, unlike what PPP does.

    There’s also another thread here where bloggers are complaining about “reviewers” from PayPerPost censoring posts for similar reasons. As someone who wrote the WOMMA Blogger Relations Ethics Code, I have to say that I am completely dumbfounded with PayPerPost censoring bloggers.

    The real kicker is that PPP says that, instead of disclosing if they’ve received a product, PPP bloggers should purposely not tell readers that they received a product for free from a firm. So, essentially, bloggers should flat out lie about disclosure in order to help the paid postings “blend in”.

    In the era of transparency, authenticity and credibility, PayPerPost is clearly not interested in participating in the aforementioned values but instead asking bloggers to destroy their credibility through nondisclosure and controlling their content.

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/PayPerPost_censors_bloggers’;

     
    • Tonja 12:07 pm on October 25, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Our agency and clients are getting bombarded by companies who say they’ll get us on sites, create fake sites, comments, etc. Some are using PPP. Ugh.

    • Melanie Seasons 4:30 pm on October 25, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, PPP, how you are the bane of my existence.

      Dave, I’m worried that as the blogosphere becomes over saturated with product reviews (whether paid, sponsored, or opt in), the idea and uniqueness of online outreach will eventually become so cheapened that readers will eventually learn to ignore reviews just as much as they do ads. I know that we’re all trying our best to get ahead of the game. That’s the only way to stay on top.

      That said, if a blog reader can’t tell the difference between a PPP or spam or a legitimate operation or if a blogger doesn’t disclose where they got said product, it ends up making us look bad too.

    • David Binkowski 3:36 am on October 26, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Tonja,
      Let them take it out of the ad budget if they’re going to pay for it. 😉

      Mel,
      Product reviews will never go away, because people will always look for advice before spending disposable income. The issue is going to be, as you’re implying, the reader’s questioning of the integrity of the reviewer — especially as the general public becomes more savvy and starts to ignore the ads, err, reviews.

  • dbinkowski 8:26 pm on April 18, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    WOMBAT 3 observations 

    That’s right, the annual Word of Mouth BAsic Training (WOMBAT) in Nawlins is wrapping up shortly. Here are my observations, some facts, and such and such:

    1. There are a lot of brands here, which means either a) they’re not doing WOM, b) their agencies aren’t educating them on WOM, or c) WOM has become even more mainstream and they’re looking to really push WOM internally (and potentially not use an agency).

    2. Someone told me that 62% of the people here were attending a WOMMA conference for the first time. Virgins.

    3. Shelled crawfish take a long time to get to the good part.

    4. Not to make this into a sales pitch, but it’s refreshing to hear that brands like Coca-Cola and Intuit are openly sharing best practices with one another as they push forward with WOM initiatives.

    5. Geno Church is in too many photos on Josh’s Flickr set. 😛

    I also posted a set of a few pics from yesterday’s dinner.

     
  • dbinkowski 8:12 pm on April 10, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s return of the WOMBAT — Part 3! 

    I will be presenting a case study sans my stellar client from General Mills next week at WOMBAT 3 in New Orleans. The presentation covers “My Hometown Helper“, a grant program for Hamburger Helper that donates money to help fix up communities. The deadline to submit an application is May 31, 2007.

    Here’s the official WOMMA text:

    I’ll be speaking at WOMMA’s Word of Mouth Basic Training conference this year — and I want you to be there with me! Trust me when I say it’s worth it. It’s April 17-18 in New Orleans and there will be tons of cool speakers, authors, and keynotes, of which I am just one! Plus, there’s food. Lots and lots of food. This is no snoozer, either. If you want to learn more about word of mouth marketing, and schmooze with word of mouth marketers, this is the place to do it.

    I’ve arranged for a special $75 discount as a courtesy to my colleagues and associates. Just use the code “speakerdeal” when you register at http://www.womma.org/wombat3.

     
  • dbinkowski 6:43 pm on February 12, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Is the future of WOM "Connected Marketing"? 

    Want to know where it’s headed? Just read this interview with Dr. Walter Carl, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. Here he’s been asked by the authors of a new book called “Connected Marketing” to comment on their predictions for word of mouth marketing. Walter is on the Advisory Board of WOMMA, of which I am a member.

    I agree with his take on their “missing” predictions (ethics, commercialization of WOM and working with minors). Go read his take to get the full story.

     
    • Walter Carl 2:08 pm on February 21, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi David,

      Thanks for mentioning your post. For your readers I just wanted to clear up a potential misunderstanding that some readers may have taken away from my post: Justin Kirby does discuss the matter of ethics in his final chapter to the book Connected Marketing. In my blog post I was just highlighting that ethics wasn’t specifically listed in the predictions. I’ve added an update to my post.

      Thanks for allowing me to clarify this on your blog.

      Cheers

      Walter

  • dbinkowski 6:43 pm on February 12, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Is the future of WOM “Connected Marketing”? 

    Want to know where it’s headed? Just read this interview with Dr. Walter Carl, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. Here he’s been asked by the authors of a new book called “Connected Marketing” to comment on their predictions for word of mouth marketing. Walter is on the Advisory Board of WOMMA, of which I am a member.

    I agree with his take on their “missing” predictions (ethics, commercialization of WOM and working with minors). Go read his take to get the full story.

     
    • Walter Carl 2:08 pm on February 21, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Hi David,Thanks for mentioning your post. For your readers I just wanted to clear up a potential misunderstanding that some readers may have taken away from my post: Justin Kirby does discuss the matter of ethics in his final chapter to the book Connected Marketing. In my blog post I was just highlighting that ethics wasn’t specifically listed in the predictions. I’ve added an update to my post.Thanks for allowing me to clarify this on your blog.CheersWalter

  • dbinkowski 3:18 am on February 8, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Recap: Blogger ethics in Ann Arbor this morning 

    I had the pleasure of presenting an updated version of my “Blogger Relations: Rules of the Road” presentation to members of the Ann Arbor PR Council this morning. Agencies and brands alike filled the room to learn the 10 Simple Rules as issued by our council on blogger ethics.

    The Q&A session featured excellent questions such as ethics and recent missteps in the blogosphere, SEO and how to apply the session’s knowledge directly to their brand.

    In particular, I want to focus on a non-profit company that attended called SOS Community Services. They help homeless families, children and individuals in Washtenaw County, which is home to our Ann Arbor crew. Nancy from SOS was in attendance and asked about getting traffic to her blog, in particular if I thought non-profits should be blogging and if they should focus on local blogs or take their campaigns national. My advice?

    First – should they blog? Absolutely. Blogging about a subject you and others are passionate about is a no-brainer. They’re set up through Blogger so it’s free minus her time, which as a means to publish news is cheaper than maintaining a content management system and faster than waiting for a volunteer to update the site.

    Now onto improving the blog. There are a ton of great articles online for reference, but given time constraints and the forum I offered up a few quick nuggets:

    1. Create a blog roll, which she did as soon as she got back to the office.

    2. Talk to some of the other local bloggers. Comment on their blogs.

    3. If you like their stuff, link to them and ask for a reciprocal link. Obviously stay relevant with your comments and contact.

    4. Tag your posts.

    5. Publish frequently, but more importantly when it makes sense.

    Go national? Absolutely. In fact, by blogging you’re already going national if not global. This little blog gets regular views from Brazil, Canada, India and various European countries.

    In case you’ve never been, Ann Arbor is the kind of city people fall in love with — many move back. And you may have heard some news about some guys who decided to bring a branch of their business back to their beloved college town (side note: the Pfizer grounds would make an outstanding midwest GooglePlex!).

    A good number of New Yorkers have and are attending the U, and I recall hearing that California is the number one state Michigan grads call home after graduation. Go national? I’ll reiterate – absolutely.

    MS&L has taken on pro-bono work in the past and I would expect to continue to help Nancy and SOS with this project. Show her some love by visiting her blog at http://soscs.blogspot.com/.

     
  • dbinkowski 7:54 pm on January 2, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Blog ethics aren’t a one way street 

    I’ve been reading the recent uproar re: the recent Microsoft Vista blogger outreach campaign and wanted to ask a simple question – why aren’t bloggers being outed for their participation or lack of disclosure, and why is it that those who are coming clean are being given a free pass?

    I can (and do) tell a client “If a blogger lies or fails to disclose they will lose readers”, but is the reality that people are still going to read these blogs? Are they “ruined”? I’ve yet to see that happen. So where’s the accountability on their end? Should they fold up shop and quit blogging, as Strumpette et al have demanded of Steve?

    Chris Abraham goes on to rip WOMMA, of which I am not only a member (but also a client?) but also helped co-create the 10 Simple Rules for ethical blogger relations. So obviously I have a real problem that only one side is being singled out here.

     
    • Chris Abraham 10:05 pm on January 3, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      It comes from love and respect, not hate, not hate.

  • dbinkowski 6:08 pm on December 29, 2006 Permalink | Reply  

    Ethics debate will never die, just multiply (colors) 

    Forgive me for the lame Ice-T reference, but much like Ice-T’s acting career when that song came out, the topic of ethics and the web are in its infancy — so don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

    A few weeks ago I presented the 10 Simple Rules for conducting ethical blogger relations campaigns and someone asked “Why not impose an ethics code for the bloggers?”. My response was that it didn’t make sense for an association for brands and agencies to write it. Here’s another example of how it doesn’t make sense:

    A recent Microsoft Vista campaign, in which certain bloggers were given $2,000 laptops loaded with Vista, has bloggers once again talking about ethics and disclosure. The debate continues…

    Separately, the World Organization of Webmasters (or “WOW”) is taking the ethics issue on in 2007 as well. Based on their blog, it appears they’re referring to accuracy when it comes to billing, knowledge, skill sets, etc. Certifications have tried to impose some sort of standard but none have really caught on.

    We’ve discussed this issue for the past few years on the CIS Advisory Board at Henry Ford – what standards are recognized by businesses/employers, if any? I’ve argued that it’s nice to have the certifications but the proof is in the pudding – show me your code and I’ll judge for myself. One former employer gave written and hands-on exams during interviews to test coding and application (such as Photoshop) knowledge. Could adopting a similar practice for employers be the answer, WOW?

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